Saif Al Azawi was released on 2 October after being arrested by Iraq’s national intelligence service and questioned at its headquarters about some of the reports on his Adhamiya News page on Facebook and about suspicions that he had been “blackmailing politicians.” The suspicions were completely unfounded.
Saif Hilal Al Azawi, a journalist and the editor of Adhamiya News, a Facebook page providing news about Adhamiya, the northeastern Baghdad neighbourhood where he lives, Azawi was abducted at dawn on 1 October in Adhamiya by members of the Iraqi special security forces, witnesses told the Journalistic Freedoms Observatory (JFO), an Iraqi NGO that defends journalists.
The JFO has learned that Azawi is also the subject of legal proceedings in connection with stories he has posted online. The NGO has not however been able to get any information from the authorities about where he is being held or the reason for his detention, which therefore constitutes an enforced disappearance.
“The Iraqi authorities are responsible for Saif Al Azawi’s safety and must provide a full account of his arbitrary detention,” said Sophie Anmuth, the head of RSF’s Middle East desk. “Iraq cannot accept being a country where the security forces can make a journalist disappear without any explanation.”
Azawi worked as a journalist for various Iraqi TV channels before launching Adhamiya News in 2012. Describing itself as “an objective news site for all Iraqis,” it covers politics, sport and culture in Adhamiya.
Iraq is ranked 160th out of 180 countries in RSF’s 2018 World Press Freedom Index.