Iraq: Kurds deport Japanese man over alleged ISIL ties

Freelance journalist Kosuke Tsuneoka, detained over suspected links to ISIL, was handed over to Japanese authorities.

    Kosuke Tsuneoka speaks at the Foreign Correspondents Club of Japan in Tokyo in 2015 [Eugene Hoshiko/AP]
    Kosuke Tsuneoka speaks at the Foreign Correspondents Club of Japan in Tokyo in 2015 [Eugene Hoshiko/AP]

    Authorities in Iraq's autonomous Kurdish region on Monday handed over a Japanese national detained last month on suspicion of ties to ISIL. 

    Media reports say Kosuke Tsuneoka, 47, is a freelance journalist who was covering the battle to take the city of Mosul from the armed group.

    "A Japanese national, Mr Kosuke Tsuneoka - also known by the nom de guerre Shamil K Tsuneoka - was detained ... for links to the Islamic State," the Kurdistan Regional Security Council said in a statement.

    "An investigation by our Counter-Terrorism Department found he was in contact with ISIL members through his smartphone."

    Tsuneoka was taken into custody on October 27 by Kurdish forces near Mount Zardak, a strategic hill east of Mosul, the council said.

    READ MORE: Japanese journalist missing in Syria appears in video

    After his release, Tsuneoka took to Twitter to explain what happened. 

    He said he had been arrested because he was carrying a key chain with an ISIL logo that he obtained on an earlier reporting trip.

    "But this became a problem at a security check for a presidential press conference. I was suspected as an IS member and arrested and interrogated. I had explained this to the authorities, and I do hope they believe my innocence," Tsuneoka said.

    He denied a media report that said he served as a translator for ISIL fighters and received a medal.

    "That's terrible. I don't understand Arabic at all," he tweeted.

    Mosul is ISIL's last major stronghold in Iraq. A coalition of Iraqi forces, including the Kurdish Peshmerga, launched a huge multi-pronged offensive to retake the city on October 17.

    The KRSC said Tsuneoka left the country on Monday via the main airport in Erbil, the capital of Iraq's Kurdish region.

    Battle for Mosul: Iraqi forces face stiff resistance from ISIL

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera And Agencies


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