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Issue of London daily banned over coverage of President Assad's trip to France

(RSF/IFEX) - Reporters Without Borders condemns a Syrian government ban on distribution of the 15 July 2008 issue of the London-based daily "Al-Hayat". According to the news website Elaph ( http://www.elaph.com ), it was prompted by an article by Saudi journalist Daoud Al-Sharayan criticising the position taken by President Bashar el-Assad during his visit to France for the launch of the Union for the Mediterranean. Headlined "Combatants lie even when they tell the truth," it accused Assad of uttering "empty slogans" and of being very distant towards Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, who was also in Paris. Sharayan wrote that the improvement in Syria's relations with Israel was at the expense of its relations with the Arab countries. He also claimed that Assad seemed happy to sit at the same table with Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert.

Syria banned distribution of the magazine "Al Moujtama'a Al-Iktisadi" (Economic Society) in February for reporting that several Syrian leaders had dual citizenship, with their second passport often being either American or Canadian.

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