A reporter for various local media including NRT TV, Hamdani has been harassed on social networks and followed by unidentified cars and, on 5 July, he found the words “We want blood” painted on his door. It is a phrase used by Iraqi tribes when one of their members is murdered.
The intimidation began after he shared Facebook posts about corruption and the poor quality of public services in his province. He thinks that a group that controls investment in Samawah is behind the threats. The authorities said they would investigate.
In a video, Hamdani says his only crime was to have talked about the problem of waste removal and the lack of electricity in the city’s streets. As a safety measure, he and his family quickly moved to a new location.
In an interview for local TV channel Al-Rasheed, Hamdani said he was in touch with the police about developments in the case, but he criticized the slowness with which the Iraqi judicial system deals with crimes against journalists. He told RSF that that the threats have stopped for the time being but he still feels in danger.
“It is unacceptable that a journalist is again being subjected to harassment and intimidation simply for covering corruption,” RSF’s Middle East desk said. “The Iraqi authorities must do everything possible to guarantee Haidar Al-Hamdani’s safety, to enable him to continue to provide reporting that is in the public interest, and to prevent any recurrence of these threats.”
The Journalistic Freedoms Observatory, an Iraqi NGO, said in a statement that Iraqi journalists expose themselves to great danger when they investigate governmental or financial corruption in Iraq. Nabil Jassim, the head of the Baghdad Today news agency, was threatened for precisely this reason in May.
Iraq is ranked 156th out of 180 countries in RSF’s 2019 World Press Freedom Index.