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"Lvin" magazine editor beaten by special forces, held for three hours in Iraqi Kurdistan

(RSF/IFEX) - 8 September 2011 - Reporters Without Borders condemns yesterday's illegal arrest and beating of "Lvin" magazine editor Ahmed Mira by special forces in Sulaymaniyah, in northern Iraq's autonomous Kurdistan region. Mira was held for three hours before being freed by a judge.

"It was 12:30 pm when men in the military uniform of the special forces stormed into Lvin's offices," Mira said. "After threatening my secretary, who refused to let them pass, and threatening to smash everything, they entered my office, searched every corner of the premises and insulted me repeatedly. Then I was handcuffed and hit on the legs and ankles with the butt of a Kalashnikov. My brother Osman was also hit."

Mira added: "Four military vehicles were waiting outside. I was bundled into one of them and was taken to the Bakhtyari police station. Then I was taken before a judge, who ordered my release at 3:30 pm. I still don't know why I was attacked like this. I have filed a complaint against the special forces and against the police officers who insulted me when I was at the police station."

Contacted by Reporters Without Borders, the ruling Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) denied any involvement in the incident. Kurdistan's intelligence agency, known as the Asayesh, also insisted that the special forces (for which it is responsible) had nothing to do with it.

An Asayesh representative in Sulaymaniyah said he had filed a defamation suit against "Lvin" in response to the report about the incident, which it has posted on its website.

Reporters Without Borders is concerned about the recent new wave of violence in Kurdistan. Asos Hardi, the founder and editor of the independent newspaper "Awene" ("The Mirror"), was attacked and beaten by a gunman as he left his office in Sulaymaniyah at around 7 pm on 29 August.

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    "It is very clear that this attack is related to my job as an independent journalist and my vocal support for freedom," Asos Hardi told Human Rights Watch.

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