ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – The de facto autonomous region in northeastern Syria announced on Friday that the Kurdistan 24 news agency could resume its work covering news in the area after a recent ban, a move that the media group earlier described as “political.”
“After considering complaints filed against the channel... the Media Office of the Autonomous Administration of Northern and Eastern Syria decided the channel could resume its work,” a statement from the administration read.
It claimed further that administration authorities had never officially issued a ban on Kurdistan 24 and called on it to avoid what it described as “party agendas,” and follow the standards and democratic values in which the administration believes.
Kurdistan 24 Company for Media and Research Ltd. has been active in northern Syria since 2015, reporting on a wide variety of issues related to politics, conflict, and culture in six different languages. That part of the war-torn country is run by the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Council (SDC), whose military wing, along with the backing of the US-led anti-ISIS coalition, cleared the Islamic State from vast areas in Syria, as covered on multiple occasions by the news organization.
On Monday, Kurdistan 24 published a statement describing the ban and its effects, saying “our team of journalists and staff had, on numerous occasions, put their lives in danger to cover the conflicts and the dire situation in the area, and became a reliable source for international media and agencies.”
However, “in the last month or so, and based on decisions from some officials in the local administration of Western Kurdistan (Northern Syria), the network has been banned from working in the region. The officials have also seized and suspended our working license in the Syrian Kurdistan region.”
In response to the ban, international media rights group Reporters Without Borders (RSF) called on the administration to retract it on Wednesday.
“[W]e urge the local administration to rescind this unilateral decision” after learning that “Syrian Kurdish authorities had removed the working license” of Kurdistan 24 and banned its “journalists from working in the region,” RSF said on its Twitter page.
When asked by a reporter for comment on the ban at a press conference on Wednesday, Maria Zakharova, a spokesperson for the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs replied, “As you know, we support freedom of speech and freedom of opinion for all media, irrespective of their affiliation and ideas.”
“If they are not supporting terrorism, if they are not violating the laws of the countries that they operate in,” she said, “they should enjoy all the respective rights and freedoms.”
Editing by John J. Catherine