journalists co-wrote two investigative reports in 2005 and 2006 on corruption
and the misuse of public funds in the Public Company for Fertilizers in
Al-Yaffi then filed a lawsuit against the journalists. He accused them of defamation, and "resisting the socialist system"—saying in his suit that the articles aimed to dismantle the public system through “accusations without proof.”
Wednesday, the court of appeals in
“Bassam Ali and Suhaila Ismail should not be facing defamation charges at all, let alone in a military court,” said CPJ Deputy Director Robert Mahoney. “We call on the authorities to drop all charges against them, considering that the government ministry itself saw fit to dismiss the head of the company as a result of these articles.”
Ali and Ismail told All4Syria, a local news Web site, that the “judicial proceedings were taking place against us without our knowledge for many months without any official notification.”
The two are charged under article 15, paragraph 1 of the Syrian Law on Economic Sanctions (1966) which state:" a person will be punished by imprisonment from one year to three years by any act of resistance to the socialist system." Local news reports, however, point out that the Syrian government decided in 2006 to adopt a social market economy system, instead of a socialist system, during the National Convention of Baath Party.