Syria

2011


Letters   |   Syria

Syria must release imprisoned journalists

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.

Alerts   |   Syria

Syria detains blogger, press freedom advocate

Syrian journalist Razan Ghazzawi speaks at a youth conference on journalism earlier this year. The blogger was detained by police late Sunday. (Reuters)

New York, December 5, 2011--The Committee to Protect Journalists condemns the detention of journalist and press freedom campaigner Razan Ghazzawi and calls on Syrian authorities to immediately release her. CPJ also urges the government to end the routine harassment and detention of journalists and to make public the names of all detained journalists and any crimes they may be charged with.

December 5, 2011 12:43 PM ET

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Alerts   |   Syria

Syrian cameraman killed; last seen being arrested

New York, November 21, 2011--A Syrian cameraman was found dead Sunday with his eyes gouged out in the town of al-Qasir, according to several news reports. Ferzat Jarban, who was last seen being arrested, is the first journalist to be killed in Syria since CPJ started documenting journalist fatalities in 1992.

November 21, 2011 2:11 PM ET

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Statements   |   Syria

Syrian agreement must be monitored for press freedom

New York, November 2, 2011--The Syrian government's acceptance of an Arab League proposal to end a crackdown on unrest must be closely monitored by international and domestic media, said the Committee to Protect Journalists in response to news of the agreement today. The measures include granting media access to the country as well as the release of political prisoners, among them an undetermined number of journalists. 

November 2, 2011 5:37 PM ET

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Blog   |   CPJ, Internet, Kazakhstan, Syria

When a bug fix can save a journalist's life

One of the most exciting aspects of working on Internet technologies is how quickly the tools you build can spread to millions of users worldwide. It's a heady experience, one that has occurred time and again here in Silicon Valley. But there's also responsibility that attaches to that excitement. For every hundred thousand cases in which a tool improves someone's day, there is another case in which it's used in a life-or-death situation. And for online journalists working on high-risk material, or in high-risk places, that life may be their own or that of a source. That's why CPJ, together with Alexey Tikhonov from Kazakhstan's Respublika, Esra'a al-Shafei from the pan-Arab forum MidEast Youth, and activist Rami Nakhle from Syria, spent this week visiting and meeting with technologists, entrepreneurs, and thinkers in Silicon Valley.

Blog   |   Syria

The 'new' Syrian media law is nothing new

President al-Assad (AP)

On August 28, President Bashar al-Assad approved a new media law that purportedly upholds freedom of expression and bans the arrest of journalists. Yet less than a week later, on Saturday, a Syrian journalist and contributor to the pan-Arab daily Al-Hayat was arrested, CPJ reported. Just two days before the endorsement of the law, Syrian cartoonist Ali Ferzat was brutally attacked by masked assailants. A close look at the legislation, Decree No. 108, suggests the Assad regime is simply paying lip service to reform.

September 7, 2011 12:46 PM ET

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Alerts   |   Syria

Syrian journalist arrested, held without charge

Amer Matar (Karim al-Afnan)
New York, September 6, 2011--The Committee to Protect Journalists is concerned by Saturday's arrest of a Syrian journalist without charge and the continued reports of missing journalists in Syria.

Amer Matar, contributor to the pan-Arab daily Al-Hayat, was arrested by Syrian security forces in Damascus on Saturday, the Guardian of London reported. Matar, who is also a political activist, has worked with youth groups in Syria calling for peaceful anti-regime demonstrations and has called for demonstrations on his Facebook page. Before his arrest, he emailed his friend, Karim al-Afnan, a Syrian journalist banned from Syria, a copy of his will and said, "I may not come back from Friday prayers."
September 6, 2011 6:03 PM ET

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Blog   |   Syria

Smashing the hand that holds the pen

Ferzat recovering at his home. (AFP)

Ali Ferzat likes to work through the night. His attackers knew that. Masked men grabbed Syria's most famous cartoonist as he set out for home from his office near Damascus' central Umayyad Square at around 5 a.m. on Thursday, and bundled him into a van. A few hours later, he lay in a bloody heap with a bag over his head on an airport road some 19 miles (30 kilometers) out of town.

Statements   |   Syria

Masked men break hands of critical Syrian cartoonist

Ferzat in a photo taken August 14, before he was brutally attacked. (AP/Muzaffar Salman)
New York, August 25, 2011--Ali Ferzat, a famous Syrian cartoonist critical of the government, was abducted and severely beaten by masked gunmen as he left his office early on Thursday in Damascus, international media reported. The attackers stomped on his hands and said the beating was a warning, the Associated Press said. He was dumped bleeding on a roadside several hours later.
August 25, 2011 1:47 PM ET

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Alerts   |   Syria

Silencing global coverage, Syria detains, expels reporters

New York, July 14, 2011--The Syrian government has detained a local journalist who contributes to pan-Arab news outlets and expelled an international reporter, according to news reports, continuing a crackdown designed to silence global news coverage of the nation's political crisis.

Blog   |   Internet, Syria

Syria's Assad gives tacit OK to online attacks on press

President al-Assad appears to have encouraged hacking attacks. (AP)

On Monday, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad gave his third public address on the vast unrest that has roiled his nation. Reporters described him as nervous. He, the reporters, or perhaps both, may have been thinking about the significance of speech No. 3. Both Tunisia's Zine El Abidine Ben Ali and Egypt's Hosni Mubarak were overthrown shortly after they delivered their third addresses on tumult in their countries. My interest, however, was on a sentence buried near the end of his address. Here's the official translation:

June 24, 2011 2:20 PM ET

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Alerts   |   Syria

Syria must prove jailed blogger is alive, well

New York, June 23, 2011--The Committee to Protect Journalists and the Arabic Network for Human Rights Information today called on the Syrian government to produce immediate evidence showing that unjustly imprisoned blogger Tal al-Mallohi is alive and well. The demand follows several recent news reports saying that al-Mallohi died in a Syrian prison a month ago. 

June 23, 2011 3:18 PM ET

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Reports   |   Cuba, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Iran, Journalist Assistance, Pakistan, Somalia, Sri Lanka, Syria

Journalists in exile 2011: Iran, Cuba drive out critics

Two of the world’s most repressive nations each forced at least 18 journalists to flee their homes in the past year. In exile, these journalists face enormous challenges. A CPJ special report by Elisabeth Witchel.

Newly freed Cuban detainees and their families in a bus after their arrival in Madrid. Exile was the price the detainees paid for their freedom. (AP/Victor R. Caivano)

Blog   |   Internet, Syria, UAE

Beyond the Amina hoax: Real cases in the Middle East

A Gay Girl in Damascus was a personal blog, said to be written by a young woman named Amina Arraf, that appeared to give an everyday record of being a lesbian in modern-day Syria. Following the events of the Arab Spring, as the political situation in Syria grew less stable, the blog attracted more readers and media coverage. Its compelling descriptions of Syrian life gave many a way to connect emotionally to a distant crisis. On June 6, the author's "cousin" wrote that the blogger had been seized by the security services.

June 15, 2011 6:07 PM ET

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Blog   |   Internet, Syria

Syrian Facebook users develop strategies against online threats

Jennifer Preston in the New York Times reports on some stories that we also have been hearing from Syrian Internet use. She documents incidents of passwords extracted by force, and the deliberate defacing of social networking pages by security forces, apparently in order to sabotage reports of unrest from that country.

A man in his 20s living in Syria said that the police demanded his Facebook password late last month after arresting him where he worked and taking his laptop. "I told him, at first, I didn't have a Facebook account, but he told me, after he punched me in the face, that he knew I had one because they were watching my 'bad comments' on it," he said. "I knew then that they were monitoring me."

The man, who asked that his name not be used because he fears that talking openly could cost him his life, gave up his password and spent two weeks in jail. After he was released, he said that he found pro-regime comments made in his name on his Facebook account. "I immediately created a new account with a fake name and so did most of my friends," he said.

A strong password is not much protection against what computer security types drily call "rubber-hose cryptanalysis" -- the use of violence to extract login details. We know that Syrian security forces also threaten users that they will violently punish anyone who changes their password after they leave.

Instead, Preston reports on new strategies developed by those on the ground. They share their passwords with colleagues, so if a Facebook user is arrested and his account misused, colleagues can log in and remove personal information or delete vandalised content. Distributors of content also create multiple Facebook accounts so that when threatened, they reveal an innocent account, instead of the one they use for dangerous activities.

Can Facebook and other US companies help their users working under these conditions? They could remind readers in that region to set their Account Security settings to force secure browsing, login notifications, and explain how to monitor account activity. And they may want to be more cautious in pro-actively taking down apparently fake accounts, in case these are being used as decoy accounts.

May 24, 2011 8:36 PM ET

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Blog   |   Iran, Syria

Parvaz says Syria detained her for Al-Jazeera work

Al-Jazeera has interviewed Dorothy Parvaz, the network journalist who was held for 19 days in Syria and Iran. Parvaz describes how the Syrian government told her at first that she was believed to be a U.S. spy, but later it became clear, she said, that she was being held because she worked for the network.  Watch the video--in which Parvaz talks about hearing "savage" beatings from her Syrian jail cell around the clock--below.

May 19, 2011 4:27 PM ET

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Alerts   |   Bahrain, Iran, Libya, Syria

Five Bahraini journalists detained; Parvaz still missing

New York, May 17, 2011--Bahrain's crackdown against journalists continues unabated with five new detentions in less than a week, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today. Syria and Iran, one of which is holding Al-Jazeera English journalist Dorothy Parvaz, continue to make intentionally vague or misleading remarks about her whereabouts and physical condition. Meanwhile, Libya announced today that four detained journalists would be released imminently. 

Statements   |   Iran, Syria

Iran must release Dorothy Parvaz

Parvaz (Ben Piven)

New York, May 11, 2011--Al-Jazeera reported today that Syria has deported Dorothy Parvaz, a journalist working for the channel's English-language service, to Iran.  The Committee to Protect Journalists is calling for her immediate release.

"Syria's apparent deportation of Dorothy Parvaz to Iran when she is also a citizen of the U.S. and Canada, is an irresponsible choice," said CPJ Middle East and North Africa Program Coordinator Mohamed Abdel Dayem. "Given Iran's abysmal press freedom record, we are concerned about Parvaz's well-being. Iranian authorities must immediately release Parvaz, who has committed no crime."

May 11, 2011 1:56 PM ET

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Alerts   |   Syria

Syria holds at least five journalists in custody

Syrians carry banners during an anti-government protest in the coastal town of Banias, Syria. (AP)

New York, May 10, 2011--Syria is holding at least five local and foreign journalists as part of its ongoing repression of the media, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today. CPJ also called on the Syrian government to make public the names of all journalists currently in detention and to release them without delay.  

Blog   |   Internet, Syria

Syrian Facebook: Low-tech threats and high-tech scrutiny

Journalists and online news-gatherers have been struggling to collect and distribute high-quality information about recent events in Syria. Foreign journalists have been turned away at the border; local online reporters have been detained. The quality of Internet and mobile phone connectivity has been extremely variable, with reports of Net and phone connections being cut off in selective areas, such as Deraa and Douma. The Wall Street Journal reported blocks on social-networking sites, and CPJ has received reports of consistent slowdowns of home Internet services such as Skype and Google Mail.

May 6, 2011 4:58 PM ET

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Alerts   |   Bahrain, Morocco, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Yemen

Morocco, Syria detain journalists; violations across region

New York, May 4, 2011--The Committee to Protect Journalists called on Morocco today to release editor Rachid Nini and sought the release of journalist Dorothy Parvaz as well as other journalists in Syria. Press freedom violations continued throughout the region, with abuses in Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Oman, and Yemen.

Reports   |   Belarus, Burma, China, Cuba, Egypt, Ethiopia, Iran, Russia, Syria, Tunisia

The 10 Tools of Online Oppressors

The world’s worst online oppressors are using an array of tactics, some reflecting astonishing levels of sophistication, others reminiscent of old-school techniques. From China’s high-level malware attacks to Syria’s brute-force imprisonments, this may be only the dawn of online oppression. A CPJ special report by Danny O’Brien

A security line outside Google's Beijing office. (AP/Andy Wong)

Reports   |   Belarus, Burma, China, Cuba, Egypt, Ethiopia, Iran, Multimedia, Russia, Syria, Tunisia

Audio Report: The 10 Tools of Online Oppressors




In our special report, "The 10 Tools of Online Oppressors," CPJ examines the 10 prevailing strategies of online oppression worldwide and the countries that have taken the lead in their use. In this accompanying podcast, CPJ Deputy Director Robert Mahoney notes that these strategies range from sophisticated cyber-attacks to traditional brute-force techniques. Listen to the podcast on the player above, or right click here to download an MP3. (2:47)

Read CPJ's special report, "The 10 Tools of Online Oppressors."

May 2, 2011 8:44 AM ET

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Alerts   |   Bahrain, Libya, Syria

Al-Wasat founder dies in custody in Bahrain

New York, April 15, 2011--The Committee to Protect Journalists called on Bahraini authorities today to conduct an immediate and transparent investigation into the death in state custody of Karim Fakhrawi, left, founder and board member of Al-Wasat, the country's premier independent daily.

Fakhrawi died Tuesday, a week after he was apparently taken into custody, according to news reports. Human rights defenders told CPJ that Fakhrawi had gone to a police station on April 5 to complain that authorities were about to bulldoze his house.

Alerts   |   Bahrain, Libya, Syria, Yemen

Bahraini blogger dies in custody; journalists under attack

Newspaper headlines report that Bahrain has suspended opposition newspaper Al-Wasat. (Reuters)
New York, April 12, 2011-- The Committee to Protect Journalists called on Bahraini authorities to launch an immediate and thorough investigation into the death of a blogger while in state custody. Bahraini authorities, meanwhile, announced that they would file criminal charges against three senior editors at the Gulf kingdom's premier independent daily, continuing a months-long pattern of violence, harassment, and intimidation against journalists covering widespread civil unrest. CPJ documented other attacks on the press in Libya, Syria, and Yemen.

Alerts   |   Egypt, Iraq, Libya, Syria, UAE, Yemen

More journalists held in Libya; blogger jailed in Egypt

Magdi Hilali among detained. (MBC)

New York, April 11, 2011--Continuing a weeks-long pattern of seizing journalists covering the Libyan conflict, the government of Muammar Qaddafi is detaining two more television journalists, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today. And in Egypt, in a serious setback for press freedom under the transitional government, a court has sentenced a blogger to a three-year prison term for "insulting the military." 

Alerts   |   Egypt, Iraq, Libya, Syria, Yemen

Journalist missing in Libya; 1 killed in Iraq

Matthew VanDyke

New York, April 8, 2011--The Committee to Protect Journalists is concerned about the fate of American freelance journalist Matthew VanDyke, who has been missing in Libya since mid-March, according to his family and news reports. He is among 15 reporters either missing or in government custody in Libya.

Alerts   |   Bahrain, Egypt, Lebanon, Libya, Syria, Yemen

Journalists to be expelled from Libya; Bahrain deports 2

Libyan rebels and journalists run for cover as pr-Qaddafi forces shell rebel positions just outside Brega. (AP/Altaf Qadri)

New York, April 6, 2011--More than 20 foreign journalists were told that they would have to leave Libya within 24 hours, National Public Radio said today. NPR reported that Libyan authorities asked journalists from different international news outlets to leave the country. The media outlets include Britain's Channel 4, CNN, Fox News, The Independent, Italian TV, ITV, Le Figaro, Los Angeles Times, The Times of London, NBC News, The New York Times, RAI, RTL, and The Sunday Times of London. The government has also decided to not issue new visas for journalists who wish to cover the unfolding conflict, NPR's Lourdes Garcia-Navarro reported from Tripoli. 

Alerts   |   Jordan, Syria

Threats to Al-Jazeera in Jordan; journalists released in Syria

Syrians living in Jordan protest in solidarity with anti-government protesters in Syria. (Reuters/Majed Jaber)

New York, April 5, 2011--Al-Jazeera staffers in Jordan have received anonymous threatening phone calls warning that their office and correspondents would be attacked, Al-Jazeera's Amman bureau chief told CPJ. Journalists in Jordan have been facing mounting dangers while covering pro-reform demonstrations, CPJ research has found.

Alerts   |   Libya, Syria

Reuters journalists under attack in Syria, Libya

New York, March 30, 2011--Reuters said today it was urgently seeking the safe return of two of its veteran journalists in Syria, one of whom was said to be in state custody while the other was reported missing. In Libya, meanwhile, a Reuters correspondent was expelled today without explanation.

Alerts   |   Bahrain, Egypt, Libya, Syria

Journalists detained in Bahrain, Egypt

New York, March 30, 2011--A CNN crew was detained today in Manama while interviewing a prominent Bahraini human rights defender, according to a Twitter posting by the network and a CPJ interview. The detentions come amid a recent series of repressive actions by the Bahraini government, which included today's arrest of a well-known blogger. Anti-press actions were also reported in Egypt, Syria, and Libya, CPJ research shows.

March 30, 2011 3:00 PM ET

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Alerts   |   Iraq, Jordan, Libya, Mauritania, Syria

Syria cracks down on press; attacks in Libya, elsewhere

Syrians shout slogans in support of protesters in Deraa. (Reuters)

New York, March 28, 2011--Facing the nationwide spread of political unrest, Syrian authorities barred three Reuters journalists from reporting, blocked journalistic access to a hotbed of political dissent, censored a critical satellite station, and detained a political blogger. The widespread repression in Syria came on the same weekend that Libyan security agents forcibly barred a woman in Tripoli from giving journalists her account of being raped and abused by militiamen loyal to leader Muammar Qaddafi. Attacks on the press were also reported in Iraq, Mauritania, and Jordan.

March 28, 2011 4:39 PM ET

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Alerts   |   Bahrain, Libya, Syria, Yemen

Al-Jazeera raided in Sana'a; attacks in Libya, Syria, Bahrain

Demonstrations in Sana'a. (AP/Muhammed Muheisen)

New York, March 22, 2011--Plainclothes gunmen raided Al-Jazeera's Sana'a bureau early this morning, confiscating equipment and obstructing operations, the Qatar-based news channel reported today as a drumbeat of anti-press attacks continued in the region. Arrests, attacks, and harassment were also reported in Libya, Syria and Bahrain in recent days.

Alerts   |   Iraq, Libya, Syria

Journalists missing in Libya; one killed in Iraq bombing


A screen grab taken from footage broadcast on Libyan state television on February 20 shows a televised address by Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi's son Saif al-Islam. (AFP/LIBYAN TV)
New York, February 24, 2011--The Committee to Protect Journalists remains alarmed by the Libyan government's ongoing, threatening rhetoric against the press, as well as the continued violence against journalists--a number of whom have not been heard from since demonstrations began on February 17. In a separate development, an Iraqi journalist was killed and another reporter injured today in a suicide bombing in Anbar province, according to news reports.

Alerts   |   Egypt, Iraq, Libya, Syria

Libya: foreign reporters 'outlaws'; Mideast attacks continue

Ziad al-Ajili, head of Baghdad's Journalistic Freedoms Observatory, inspects the aftermath of a raid on his office today. (AP/Hadi Mizban)

New York, February 23, 2011--The Committee to Protect Journalists is concerned about the ongoing attack on journalists and bloggers in the Middle East. Today the Libyan deputy foreign minister warned foreign journalists crossing the eastern border that they will be treated as "outlaws," according to news reports. In Iraq, gunmen raided the office of a local press freedom group; in Egypt, pro-government supporters attacked a group of local journalists; and in Syria, a young blogger was arrested on Sunday, according to news reports. 

February 23, 2011 5:55 PM ET

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Alerts   |   Syria

Syrian blogger sentenced to five years in prison

New York, February 15, 2011--The Committee to Protect Journalists condemns the sentencing of blogger Tal al-Mallohi on Monday to five years in prison on state security charges and calls on Syrian authorities to release her immediately. Al-Mallohi, 20, was detained in 2009 and held in extrajudicial detention for close to a year, according to news reports and local press freedom groups.

February 15, 2011 5:00 PM ET

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