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Syria arrests freelance journalist reporting for France Culture

Paris-based press freedom group Reporters sans Frontières (RSF) has called on the Syrian government to free nearly a dozen journalists and netizens it has imprisoned as it battles protests against the regime of President Bashar al-Assad. “The terror and arbitrary rule must end,” the media freedom organisation said, “and all those held, as well as prisoners of conscience, must be released.”

Among journalists and netizens arrested are Algerian freelance reporter Khaled Sid Mohand, who was making documentaries for the French broadcaster France Culture’s “Sur les docks” programme and who also works for French daily Le Monde. He was picked up on April 9 and is thought be in a Damascus prison.

Syrian journalist and writer Fayez Sara was arrested on April 11 in the capital after attending a meeting of the opposition Damascus Declaration National Council. He was earlier arrested in 2008 and imprisoned for two and a half years for signing the Declaration, which calls for lifting the state of emergency, allowing freedom of expression and assembly and the departure of the ruling Assad family.

Threats and attacks on journalists have increased during the current unrest and foreign journalists, including those working for the Associated Press and Reuters news agencies, have been deported. Many Syrian journalists and bloggers have also been arrested. The regime is preventing foreign and local journalists from covering demonstrations and some have been physically attacked. Entry visas for foreign journalists are hard to get.

Syrians and foreigners living in the country are afraid to speak up and the authorities have imposed a media blackout on the protests and on the brutality of police and troops against demonstrators.

Those being held include Wassim Hassan, blogger (since today), Mohamed Zaid Mistou, Syrian-born Norwegian correspondent for the news website Al-Arabiya.net (since April 7), Akram Abu Safi and Sobhie Naeem Al-Assal (since March 24), Amer Matar of Al-Hayat (April 1), journalist Zaher Omareen (March 27), journalist and writer Mohamed Dibo (March 19), blogger Ahmed Hadifa (March 24) and Kurdish blogger Kamal Hussein Sheikou (March 16).

Date posted: April 14, 2011 Last modified: May 23, 2018 Total views: 77