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Syria must release imprisoned journalists, says CPJ

(CPJ/IFEX) - 14 December 2011 - In an open letter, CPJ urges the Syrian government to end the harassment and intimidation of journalists and to disclose the names, health status, and location of all the journalists in prison:

December 14, 2011

Bashar al-Assad
President of the Syrian Arab Republic
Presidential Palace, al-Rashid Street,
Damascus, Syria
Via facsimile: +963 11 332 3410

Dear President Assad:

The Committee to Protect Journalists is writing to bring to your attention disturbing reports of journalists being arrested and subjected to abuse in Syrian prisons. In the past 10 months, CPJ has documented 29 cases of journalists who were arrested for their work and nine cases of foreign journalists who have been expelled from Syria since March. We have also documented nine cases of journalists who are currently in prison.

Mr. President, you approved the media law that passed in August that was intended to ease restrictions on journalists and ban their arrests, yet authorities continue to routinely detain journalists without charge. A number of journalists have been detained in your country without any information given on their whereabouts or health conditions, CPJ research shows. After being held under duress for extended periods, some were released without charge. We have confirmed that at least nine journalists are in prison, and are listing their names in a separate document for your review. We call on you to disclose the names of all imprisoned journalists in Syria and any crimes they may be charged with, along with their health status and whereabouts. We further call on you to bring to an end the harassment and intimidation of journalists in your country.

We remind you of your acceptance of the Arab League's proposal in November in which you said you would allow international journalists access to your country and domestic media to report freely. We call on you to implement this measure immediately.

We also ask you to ensure that a credible investigation takes place into the death of cameraman Ferzat Jarban who was killed and mutilated in Homs in November. Jarban is the first journalist to be killed in Syria since CPJ started documenting journalist fatalities in 1992.

We urge you to end the harassment and intimidation of journalists in your country, and we reiterate our call for you to disclose the names, health status, and location of all the journalists in prison in Syria.

Thank for your attention to these important matters. We look forward to your response.


Joel Simon
Executive Director

Click here to see CPJ's list of journalists imprisoned in Syria
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    Ferzat Jarban was filming anti-regime protests in al-Qasir in Homs governorate when authorities arrested him on Saturday 19 November.

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