UK police hold, question British journalist for work in NE Syria

QAMISHLI, Syria (North Press) – In August, the British counter-terrorism police arrested a British journalist for five hours. The journalist previously worked in northeast Syria.

According to the Guardian, Matt Broomfield, 29, said, after he got off from a plane from Belgrade on Aug. 24, the police questioned him about his reporting and opinions on the British state.

Broomfield said the police seized his phone and laptop but did not return them after the questioning ended.

Broomfield, with other reporters, co-founded the Rojava Information Center(RIC) in northeast Syria. The RIC is an independent, volunteer-staffed organization and helped many researchers and national and international media outlets with information from on the ground in northeast Syria.

He said the police officers focused on his writings in their questioning and who he had met and interviewed.

Previously, Broomfield had been held for two month in a detention center in Greece in 2021 and denied entry into Italy due to his media and advocacy work he believed. He was also questioned one time in the UK.

Broomfield said, “It seems clear the Schengen ban and my harassment by the UK police are driven by direct or indirect pressure from Turkey, on the basis of my work and reporting in Rojava and around the Kurdish issue.”

In a related context, the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), a US non-governmental organization (NGO), previously urged Turkey to release all detained members of the press and stop prosecuting journalists who cover Kurdish issues.

The CPJ reported that the 4th Court of Serious Crimes in the southeastern city of Diyarbakır has accepted an indictment of 17 Kurdish journalists and they face up to 15 years in prison if found guilty under Turkey’s anti-terrorism laws.

Gökay Akbulut, a member of the German parliament for the far-left Die Linke party of Kurdish heritage, was also arrested for hours when she traveled to Turkey in early August for social media posts she made in 2019.

Akbulut previously criticized the Turkish government on her official website for “waging a brutal war against the Kurdish population inside and outside its borders.”

By Stella Youssef