Syria - Syria sets Arab world record with at least five bloggers and cyber-dissidents detained



    MONTREAL, June 30 /CNW Telbec/ - Reporters Without Borders is worried by
the lack of news about Hammam Haddad, a Damascus University student and author
of magazine and Internet articles, since his arrest on 5 May in the capital
without any reason being given. He is the fifth Internet user to be detained
in Syria in the past year.
    "This arrest turns Syria into the Arab world's most repressive country
towards people who post news and information online," the press freedom
organisation said. "It is an additional attempt to intimidate and silence
dissidents and bloggers."
    Activist Mohammad Badi Dak Al Bab, a member of the National Organisation
for Human Rights in Syria was meanwhile sentenced to six months in prison
yesterday on a charge of "attacking the prestige of the state" under article
287 of the criminal code for posting an article entitled "Damascus, capital of
Arab culture"on the organisation's website. Bab, who has been held in Adra
(20 km northeast of the capital) since 2 March, was previously detained from
2000 to 2005.
    A blogger, Tariq Biassi, 22, is being held in a Damascus security camp.
He was sentenced on 11 May to three years in prison under articles 285 and 286
of the criminal code for "publishing false information" and "undermining
national sentiment" for posting a comment critical of the government on a
website.
    He was one of the first people to fall victim to new government
provisions regarding the Internet. Telecommunications minister Amr Salem,
decreed on 25 July 2007 that website owners should, for security reasons, keep
the personal data of those posting articles and comments online.
    Reporters Without Borders calls for the release of Biassi, Haddad and
three other cyber-dissidents - Firas Saad, Habib Saleh and Kareem Arabji - and
points out the Syrian constitution "guarantees the right to freely express
one's opinions in word, in writing or by any other means."




For further information:

For further information: Katherine Borlongan, secretary general,
Reporters Without Borders, (514) 521-4111, Cell: (514) 258-4188, Fax: (514)
521-7771, rsfcanada@rsf.org

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