Iraqi blogger outspoken about country's corruption detained

Iraqi blogger outspoken about country's corruption detained
FILE - In this Oct. 6, 2019 file photo, anti-government protesters set fires and close a street during a demonstration in Baghdad, Iraq. A family member of Shujaa al-Khafaji, a popular Iraqi blogger, said authorities have detained him, apparently over his coverage of anti-government protests. The family member, who spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of reprisals, said heavily armed masked gunmen stormed the apartment of al-Khafaji in Baghdad at dawn Thursday, Oct. 17, 2019 and took him away. (AP Photo/Khalid Mohammed, File)

BAGHDAD (AP) — Masked security agents stormed the apartment of a prominent Iraqi blogger in Baghdad early Thursday and detained him, apparently over his coverage of anti-government protests, a member of his family said.

For about a week starting Oct. 1, Iraq witnessed protests by young Iraqis demanding jobs, electricity and clean water — and an end to corruption. Security forces retaliated with live fire, killing more than 100 people and wounding thousands in protests that spread mostly in Baghdad and pre-dominantly Shiite regions in the country’s south.

The family member, who spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of reprisals, said Shujaa al-Khafaji had received threats from unknown people in recent days warning him not to publish posts about the protests.

Al-Khafaji, 29, runs a popular Facebook page called “Brothers Iraq” that focuses on human rights violations. On Tuesday the page, which has 2.1 million likes, posted a video that showed what it said were people setting a checkpoint on fire after the protesters had left. It blamed government supporters for the fire.

A statement posted on the Facebook page and a family member said “unknown armed” gunmen stormed al-Khafaji’s Baghdad apartment at dawn Thursday and took al-Khafaji as well as all of the family’s computers and cell phones. The family member said the gunmen were heavily armed and masked.

Prominent Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr tweeted after the arrest that he is opposed to silencing people, adding that those behind it should be held accountable.