Irish citizen Yasser Eljuboori prevented from leaving Iraq

On Sunday 3rd March 2024 Irish citizen and renowned anti-corruption activist, Yasser Eljuboori, was informed by a Baghdad court that, contrary to expectations, he would not be permitted to leave Iraq and return home to his family in Dublin, Ireland. 

Mr Eljuboori and his domestic legal team were informed by the Baghdad court that two additional charges under Article 226 of the Penal Code, concerning his social media posts in which he raised corruption concerns, had been filed against him by the Chair of the National Investment Commission and the Mayor of Baghdad. No specific information of the charges was provided. Article 226 criminalises “any person who publicly insults” public authorities or officials.

Last week, on Monday 26th February 2024, Mr Eljuboori was detained by the Iraqi authorities in the early hours of the morning at Baghdad airport. He was detained at a police station in Baghdad and first appeared in court on Tuesday 27th February when he was informed that the Prime Minister had filed charges against him and he was remanded into custody for a further two days. The Prime Minister is understood to have made a complaint under Article 226 regarding Mr Eljuboori’s anti-corruption campaigning. However, at a court hearing on Thursday 29th February, Mr Eljuboori had been assured that all charges filed against him had been dropped against him and that there would simply be “two to three days of paperwork” to complete before he would be allowed to return home to his family in Dublin. Attendance at the court on Sunday 3rd March was simply to collect his passport and belongings, but he then learned of the new charges. Mr Eljuboori was prevented from leaving Iraq and was unable to fly home to Dublin as planned.

Urgent representations were made to the Iraqi authorities about the new charges. This morning, Monday 4th March 2024, it has been confirmed to Mr Eljuboori’s domestic lawyers in Baghdad that both the Chair of the National Investment Commission and the Mayor of Baghdad (the complainants) no longer wish to proceed with the charges. There will be a further court hearing tomorrow morning, 5th March 2024, at which Mr Eljuboori will be seeking the dismissal of the new charges and the return of his passport and belongings, to enable him to fly home tomorrow.  

As matters stand, Mr Eljuboori is prevented from leaving Iraq and faces two new sets of charges. 

Speaking this morning from her home in Balgriffin, Dublin, Mr Eluboori’s wife Laura Wickham said:

“The past week has been a rollercoaster of emotions for me: the initial confusion at Yasser’s disappearance; the terror as I learned the news of his arrest, detention and criminal charges brought against him by the Prime Minister; the relief when he was released; and now despair at these latest developments. This feels like a cruel game, an ongoing torment playing with Yasser’s freedom.

Our children miss their dad and I miss my husband. I call on the Iraqi authorities to allow Yasser to return home. Every additional day and hour that he spends in Baghdad puts him at risk of further bogus charges.

I am so grateful for all that the Tánaiste, the Irish Government and the Department of Foreign Affairs are doing to help, and the EU and the UN. The next 24 hours are crucial and we must all work together to bring Yasser home.” 

Having learned that both complainants no longer wish to proceed with the charges, Ms Wickham added:

“I welcome the decision by the two complainants to call a halt to these latest proceedings, but nothing is confirmed until the court dismisses these charges. I hope and expect that this final step will take place at tomorrow’s hearing. I ask the court to put an end to our suffering, dismiss the charges, and give Yasser back his passport so he can finally travel home to Dublin.”   

Caoilfhionn Gallagher KC, international counsel to Ms Wickham added:

“Yasser Eljuboori is being targeted by multiple public officials for his campaigning work highlighting corruption in Iraq. Using Article 226 of Iraq’s Penal Code - the legal weapon of choice for thin-skinned public officials who seek to suppress criticism – they have attempted to silence him and punish him for his work. It is particularly cruel that Mr Eljuboori was informed that all charges were dropped and that he would be going home within days, when in fact new charges were being prepared behind the scenes which would keep him trapped in Baghdad, unable to return home to his family. 

Article 226 is being used in a brutal game of legal whack-a-mole against Mr Eljuboori: as soon as one set of charges is dismissed, another appears.  

It is imperative that the international community stands up to these bullying, repressive tactics. The Iraqi authorities must drop all charges against Mr Eljuboori forthwith and allow him safe passage home to Ireland. We expect these final steps to be taken at the hearing on Tuesday 5th March 2024.”

Caoilfhionn Gallagher KC acts with Tatyana Eatwell as international counsel to the family. 

In the circumstances, Ms Wickham and the international legal team will not be giving interviews until after tomorrow’s court hearing.  


Notes to Editors: 

  1. Yasser Eljuboori’s next court hearing will take place on Tuesday 5th March 2024.

  2. Ms Wickham and the international legal team will not be commenting further until 10am GMT / 13.00 AST on Tuesday 5th March 2024. Any queries should be directed to  

  3. Further background is available in the family’s earlier statements, here (Tuesday 27th February 2024), here (Wednesday 28th February 2024) and here (Thursday 29th February 2024). The campaign is on social media, at @freeyasser2024 and using the hashtag #freeyasser2024.

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Yasser Eljuboori and Laura Wickham. Photograph courtesy of Laura Wickham.