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Reporter and cameraman detained as arbitrary arrests continue

(RSF/IFEX) - Reporters Without Borders is worried about the detention of reporter Ali Taha and cameraman Ali Ahmed by the Department of Internal Security since 2 January 2010. The authorities have not said why they were arrested or where they are being held.

"The continuing arbitrary arrests of journalists in Syria are disturbing," Reporters Without Borders said. "The authorities provide no information about the legal grounds for these arrests or the subsequent place of detention. This complete lack of transparency does not bode well."

According to the information available, the security forces arrested Ahmed, who has worked for the TV station Rotana for the past 10 years, while he was filming near the Mausoleum to Sayda Zainab (granddaughter of the Prophet Mohammed and daughter of the Imam Ali ibn Abi Taleb), located 10 km south of Damascus.

Taha, who also works for Rotana, was arrested later the same day after responding to a summons. An experienced and respected reporter, Taha has worked for years for both Rotana and the magazine "Saidati".

Meanwhile, it is still not known why journalist Maan Aqil of the government daily "Al-Thawra" was arrested on 22 November or where he is being held.

The only positive development has been the 6 January release of Kareem Arbaji, a blogger who was arrested on 6 July 2007 and was sentenced last September to three years in prison under article 286 of the criminal code for "publishing mendacious reports liable to weaken the nation's spirit."

He was freed five months before completing his sentence after Christian representatives in Syria addressed a request to the president's office for his early release on the grounds that his father was in very poor health.

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