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Number of citizen journalists killed and arrested rises daily

UPDATE: Detainees face sexual assault (Human Rights Watch, 15 June 2012)

(RSF/IFEX) - 1 June 2012 - The young Syrian filmmaker Bassel Shahade was shot dead by a sniper in the Bab Saba district of Homs two days ago. Shahade studied photography in the United States before returning to Syria at the start of the popular uprising.

For the past three months the talented photographer and filmmaker had been covering the clashes in Homs and was one of the principal citizen journalists reporting on, among other things, the shelling of the Baba Amr district in February. His assistant and fellow director, Ahmed Assam, was also killed.

Two days earlier, three media activists of the Sham News Network (SNN) were shot dead by government forces in the Khaldieh district of Homs. The circumstances of their deaths are still unclear:

- Ammar Mohamed Souhail, director and Khaldieh correspondent for SNN.

- Ahmed Adnan Al-Ashlaq, an engineer working for the network.

- Laurens Fahmi Al-Naimi, media activist and filmmaker for SNN in Khaldieh. He was also its director of live broadcasting.

Reporters Without Borders has also learned of arrests on 27 May of two journalists, Mohamed Omar Al-Khatib and filmmaker Bilal Ahmed Bilal, by air force intelligence in Damascus.

Al-Khatib was arrested after being shot and wounded. Reporters Without Borders is concerned about his medical condition. According to our information, Bilal was reported to have been taken from the capital's Mezzeh airport to Sednaya prison. Both journalists had already been detained by syrian security in the past year.

The writer Khaled Khalifa, author of “In Praise of Hatred” published in 2006, was arrested on 25 May while he was attending a funeral and released three days later .

In February, he published an open letter to journalists and fellow writers criticizing the Chinese and Russian vetoes of a U.N. Security Council resolution on Syria.
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