August 20, 2017

Congresswoman Ros-Lehtinen Writes US Ambassador to Iraq to Ensure Safar Zakeri’s Release

Text of Representative Ros-Lehtinen’s letter to U.S. Ambassador, the Honorable Stuart E. Jone:

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April 2, 2015

The Honorable Stuart E. Jones
U.S. Ambassador to Iraq
Embassy of the United States
Al-Kinki Street
International Zone
Baghdad, Iraq

Dear Mr. Ambassador:

I am seeking information regarding an incident involving local Iraqi law enforcement and a resident of Camp Liberty that took place over two weeks ago and urging the administration to ensure the safety and security of all the Camp’s residents. As you recall, during my recent visit to Iraq as part of a Congressional Delegation, I spoke of the plight of the Camp Liberty residents and we discussed this specific incident. While I appreciate our discussion, I would like to ensure that the Embassy and State Department are doing everything possible for this individual who may be, according to reports, a victim of extrajudicial punishment by the Government of Iraq.

As you are aware, on March 16, 2015, there was reportedly an incident involving Mr. Safar Zakery, a resident of Camp Liberty, and members of the Iraqi SWAT forces. I have been informed that in the aftermath of the incident, Mr. Zakery was and continues to be unlawfully detained. I have also been informed that witnesses to the incident, which include several local policemen involved in, or witness to the incident, all report that it was the Iraqi SWAT forces that were at fault, not Mr. Zakery.

In addition to these troubling allegations, I have also been informed that, despite Mr. Zakery being a Person of Concern as designated by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the Iraqi judicial system has reached out to the Government of Iran to inquire about his status and continues to inquire about the legality of his entry into Iraq. If true, seeking information on Mr. Zakery’s status from Iran — the country he fled in fear for his life — is both counterproductive and counter to purpose behind such a designation. Therefore, I respectfully request that the State Department provide a complete report on this incident and will urge the Government of Iraq to release Mr. Zakery immediately. I also continue to ask the administration help protect and care for the residents of Camp Liberty.

Once again, I thank you for your and look forward to your response.

Sincerely,
Ileana Ros-Lehtinen
Member of Congress