Photo of oil-field fire in Mosul post ISIL retreat | Wikimedia CC | 2018-06-07

History PhD candidate argues against the removal of ISIS documents from Iraq


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Sara Farhan

York University history doctoral candidate Sara Farhan spoke with Anna Maria Tremonti on CBC’s The Current to discuss the petition she co-authored on the “unethical” removal of ISIS documents. The petition states that the documents possess information that undermine the safety of Iraqis’.

New York Times reporter Rukmini Callimachi removed 16,000 ISIS documents from Iraq and brought them back to America to publish. Her actions evoked outrage from the academic community and many questions regarding the removal of documents from war-torn areas.

While speaking with Farhan, Tremonti asked her why she objected to Callimachi removing those documents. Farhan answered that there’s an “ethical question surrounding the publication of sensitive information of Iraqi civilians.” She states that El-Fourat Times had published an article saying that the Iraqi forces were in fact using those documents to ensure the safety of civilians in those areas as well as to find out what potential ISIS cells exist. Farhan argues that the removal of those documents from Iraq exploits Iraqi civilians.

Farhan continues to say that “there are other social and cultural elements that must be considered” when it comes to the Times reporting on situations in Iraq. Additionally, she mentions the many conflicting reports between Callimachi’s and other accounts of what happened in Iraq regarding the removal of the ISIS documents.

“We need to respect these areas under conflict and we must not allow this incident to set precedent for future journalism,” says Farhan. “We must uphold journalistic integrity, specifically when the media is under scrutiny for unethical reporting.”