The journalists Marlene Förster and Matej Kavčič imprisoned in Iraq are free again. The reason for the month-long detention was unclear.
BAGHDAD/DARMSTADT – Marlene Förster is free again after being imprisoned in Iraq for 30 days. The student and journalist from Darmstadt was deported from the Arab country and arrived in Berlin on Friday afternoon, where she is relaxing with friends. She received the good news by phone from the German embassy in Baghdad on Friday morning, said mother Lydia Förster, who lives in Bessungen. “She’s fine. We are all happy and relieved,” reported Lydia Förster.
The Slovenian journalist Matej Kavcic, who was arrested together with Marlene Förster, was also able to return to his home country.
The deportation does not mean that the allegations made by the Iraqi authorities against Marlene Förster will be dropped, her mother said. It is not a formal release. According to information from the embassy, the investigation will continue. The Darmstadt native, who worked as a journalist in northern Iraq, was recently accused of espionage and violating entry regulations. The accusation of supporting terrorism, which had been raised in the meantime, had previously been dropped.
As a German citizen, she cannot be extradited
However, it is impossible that Marlene Förster will have to serve any further sentence in Iraq that goes beyond the one-month solitary confinement she has already endured. As a German citizen, she cannot be extradited under any circumstances.
However, another entry by Marlene Förster into the Kurdish settlement areas in northern Iraq should also be ruled out. She had reported several times from the region to draw attention to the fate of the Kurds and Yazidis living there.
Marlene Förster was arrested together with Matej Kavcic at an Iraqi army checkpoint on April 20, after attending a Yazidi celebration near the city of Sinjar (Kurdish: Shingal). For days there was no contact with the German embassy and no legal support; only a few days ago she was able to speak to a lawyer for the first time.
Förster’s and Kavcic’s fate caused great sympathy. More than 50,000 people signed a petition on Change.org calling for her release.
As recently as Thursday evening, politicians from Darmstadt had been pushing for a diplomatic solution. A joint resolution of almost all factions addressed the “urgent request to the Foreign Office and the German Embassy in Iraq” to urge the Iraqi authorities to release the detainees.