Little hope for press freedom on eve of President Assad’s second seven-year term

first_imgNews Organisation SyriaMiddle East – North Africa February 3, 2021 Find out more RSF_en Receive email alerts Help by sharing this information March 12, 2021 Find out more to go further News Newscenter_img Toll of ten years of civil war on journalists in Syria March 8, 2021 Find out more SyriaMiddle East – North Africa Follow the news on Syria Damascus TV presenter arrested under cyber-crime law Wave of Kurdish arrests of Syrian journalists News July 16, 2007 – Updated on January 20, 2016 Little hope for press freedom on eve of President Assad’s second seven-year term Reporters Without Borders appealed for the release of Michel Kilo, Muhened Abdulrahman and Habib Saleh today, on the eve of President Bashar Al-Assad’s swearing-in tomorrow for a second seven-year term.“Assad’s first term as president was marked by many arrests of Syrian journalists and activists,” the press freedom organisation said. “The state of emergency that has been in effect since 1963 is still used as a pretext to control the news media. A journalist and two cyber-dissidents are currently in prison for daring to express themselves freely. The government continues to cite the Islamist threat or regional problems in order to postpone political reforms.”Reporters Without Borders added: “There is no press freedom in Syria. The Baathist repressive apparatus hounds journalists whose work annoys the authorities. Arbitrary arrests, intimidation and censorship are part of their daily lot. Syria is one of the Middle East’s most ruthless countries in this respect.”A 67-year-old journalist and writer, Kilo was sentenced on 13 May to three years in prison for “weakening national sentiment.” He was arrested on 14 May 2006 after signing the “Beirut-Damascus, Damascus-Beirut” appeal by Syrian and Lebanese intellectuals for a radical overhaul of relations between the two countries, which the Syrian authorities described as “interference in the internal affairs” of Syria and as a “provocation.” He has been held ever since in Adra prison on the outskirts of Damascus.Saleh, a writer aged 59, was sentenced to three years in prison by a military tribunal in the west-central town of Homs after an unfair trial on 16 August 2006. Arrested in May 2005 in Tartus, 130 km north of Damascus, he was accused of disseminating “mendacious reports.” Abdulrahman, 25, has been held without trial since 7 September 2006 for contributing to independent websites.President since 2001, Assad won another seven-year term with 97.62 per cent of the votes in an election on 29 May in which he was the only candidate. He is regarded by Reporters Without Borders as one of the world’s 34 “press freedom predators.”last_img

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