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Syrian journalist Ata Farahat held for past two months

(RSF/IFEX) - Reporters Without Borders is very worried about the prolonged detention of Syrian journalist Ata Farahat, the Golan Heights correspondent of the daily newspaper "Al-Watan" and Syrian public television. The organisation wrote to justice minister Daniel Friedman on 1 October 2007 requesting his release.

"We are all the more concerned as Palestinian journalists have in the past been kept for long periods in Israeli prisons under administrative detention procedures without the authorities providing any information as to what they were supposed to have done," the letter said. "We hope Farahat's arrest is not related to the nature of the media he works for. The questions surrounding this case must be dispelled."

Farahat, 35, has been held in Al-Jalama prison (14 km southeast of Haifa) since his arrest on 30 July. He was brought on several occasions before an investigating judge in Tel Aviv who has always refused to grant him provisional release. The judge has also refused to lift a gag order preventing Farahat's lawyers and the Israeli media from talking about the case.

The Syrian Centre for Media and Free Expression (SCM) believes that Farahat may have been charged with "establishing contacts with an enemy nation."

The next hearing is due on 8 October.

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