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Authorities detain blogger

(ANHRI/IFEX) - Cairo, 15 January 2012 - The Arabic Network for Human Rights Information (ANHRI) deplored today the ongoing crackdown on journalists and bloggers in Syria, further exacerbating the disastrous state of free expression in the country.

On 3 January, Syrian security forces arrested Mohammad Ghazy Kanas, blogger and journalist, while he was leaving his home in Kafr Sousa in the suburbs of Damascus. His whereabouts are still unknown.

Kanas, born in 1986 in Saraqeb, Adelb governorate, and a graduate of the Media faculty at Damascus University, writes for several local print and online media in addition to his blog named Kalemat Insan [A human's word]. In his last post he wrote: "My good friends, 'Kalemat Insan blog' will no longer stay silent. That is because of what is happening in Syria right now, and the consequences for activity on the Internet . . . There is still hope for a more stable future for Syria and a secure life for its citizens." A group of fellow bloggers created a page named "Freedom for the blogger journalist Mohamed Ghazy Kanas" on Facebook in order to lobby for his release.

Bloggers and journalists in Syria have been suffering under an ongoing and harsh crackdown before and after the revolution. On 11 January, French journalist Gilles Jacquier of the France 2 TV network was struck by a mortar shell while among a group of Syrian journalists who were also targeted, after he had photographed victims of a shelling in Elsalehia district in Homs. Jacquier, who had worked in countries like Afghanistan, Yemen and Iraq, was the first foreign journalist to die in Syria's bloody events.

On 3 January, Syrian journalist Shokry Abol Burghul died "after 3 days of hospitalization after being shot in the face on 31 December 2011, while he was writing at home," his son Ayham said.

Bloggers have faced a large share of the crackdown. On 8 December, the Immigration Authority arrested Guevara Nemer, Syrian photographer and film producer, while on her way to UAE to attend the Dubai Film Festival with a group of Syrian artists and media professionals. Her arrest order was issued by the political security department. On 4 December, the immigration police arrested Razan Ghazawy at the Syrian Jordanian boarder while she was on her way to attend the Forum of Media Freedom in the Arab World. She was released on bail of 15.000 Syrian pounds (US$300) after the investigation judge charged her with "broadcasting false information that could undermine national morale", "circulating false news that could weaken national sentiment and ignite sectarian strife" and "establishing an organization that aims to change the social and economic entity of the state". On 17 November, Hussain Jarir, a blogger and activist, was referred from the state security department to the civil judiciary. He was arrested on 27 October, after writing on his blog "No more silence, we don't want to be jailed in our nation for a word we say, we want a nation that loves and embrace words".

"The continuous killing, arresting and kidnapping of journalists, bloggers and opinion makers may be seen as part of a systematic campaign through which the illegitimate regime is trying to silence voices and preventing them from backing and aiding Syrian people in their battle to remove the regime," ANHRI said.

ANHRI added, "Freedom of expression in Syria has come to be in a very serious situation that necessitates immediate action, in support of the Syrian people who are fighting for democracy and freedom and are being subject to killings, arrests, terrorizing and kidnapping."
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