KRG PM Barzani hires prominent lawyer for defamation case

The US District Courts, Virginia Eastern District Court, has scheduled a trial on 31 March for a defamation case raised by a Kurdish-American female activist against Masrour Barzani, prime minister of the Kurdistan Regional Government in north Iraq.

Iraqi Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) prime minister Masrour Barzani. [Getty]

Masrour Barzani, the Prime Minister of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) has reportedly hired Benjamin Benjamin Chew, a prominent US lawyer, to defend against Shnyar Anwar Hassan, a US citizen and activist from the Iraqi Kurdistan region, who filed an “assault, battery, and defamation” lawsuit against Barzani in the US District Courts, Virginia Eastern District Court in November, according to the plaintiff and court documents.

Chew became famous after he defended US actor Johnny Depp and won a defamation trial against Depp’s ex-wife Amber Heard in June.  

“On 10 February, Benjamin Chew and David Bargar, representing Mr Barzani, the Prime Minister of the Kurdistan Region, filed a motion to dismiss the lawsuit. In their motion, they argue that Barzani is entitled to sovereign immunity as a senior official in the Kurdistan region, which is a federal region within the Iraqi state,” Hassan told The New Arab.

Political magazine The American Prospect published an investigation by Zack Kopplin, a journalist working for the US-based Government Accountability Project on 7 December 2021. The investigation found that  Masrour Barzani and his family owned several properties through shell companies – including an US$ 18.3 million CVS pharmacy in South Beach, Miami.

Shnyar and her husband, Sarkawt Shams, a former member of the Iraqi parliament, re-posted links to the story on Twitter and Facebook and translated the article into Kurdish.

On 9 December 2021, several news outlets in Kurdistan reported a statement in response to Kopplin’s article that was issued in the Kurdish language by the

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