German journalist Marlene Förster is held by the Iraqi secret service

German journalist Marlene Förster is being held in a solitary cell by Iraqi intelligence and has gone on hunger strike. There is still no contact with her Slovenian colleague Matej K.

Eight days after her arrest by the Iraqi military on April 20, German journalist Marlene Förster was able to speak for the first time on Thursday with a staff member of the German Embassy in Baghdad. This was announced by the Berlin office of Civaka Azad. According to the embassy employee, Marlene Förster is being held in a solitary cell at the headquarters of the Iraqi intelligence service and was on hunger strike until the contact with her foreign representation.

The 29-year-old journalist and her Slovenian colleague Matej K. have been conducting research in the Yazidi area of Şengal in northern Iraq for the past few months. The content and aim of the research was the social development in Şengal after the genocide of the Yazidis in 2014, perpetrated by the so-called Islamic State (ISIS). In 2014, the massacre and enslavement of Yazidi women was reported worldwide, but today information about the reality of life for the people of Şengal rarely finds its way into the media. Journalists such as Marlene Förster and Matej K. conducted on-site research to inform the world public about how society copes with the trauma of the genocide.

The two foreign journalists were arrested at an Iraqi army checkpoint in Şengal on Wednesday last week. After their arrest, their trail was lost until yesterday. After visiting Marlene Förster in prison, the German embassy informed the lawyer of the charge against her: "supporting terrorism". The research on the Yezidi society is apparently interpreted as terror support by the Iraqi government.

Following the arrest of Marlene Förster and Matej K., a circle of supporters together with the family wrote an open letter to Federal Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock on Monday. To date, no statement from Baerbock has been received. "As a mother, I wonder what Ms. Baerbock, who herself is committed to the Yazidis, has to say about the fact that a young woman who is committed to ending the suffering of Yazidi society is now in prison on charges of supporting terrorism in Iraq," said mother Lydia Förster.

There is still no contact with the Slovenian journalist Matej K. who was also arrested.

A campaign has been launched via social media under the hashtags #FreeMarleneAndMatej and #FreedomForMarleneandMatej. The open letter to German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock, published on Monday, can still be supported with a signature to [email protected].