Call for release of writer and poet sentenced to four years in prison for criticising government online

first_img March 12, 2021 Find out more Sign the petition to call for Tariq Biasi’s release News SyriaMiddle East – North Africa March 8, 2021 Find out more RSF_en Toll of ten years of civil war on journalists in Syria Help by sharing this information Damascus TV presenter arrested under cyber-crime law April 9, 2008 – Updated on January 20, 2016 Call for release of writer and poet sentenced to four years in prison for criticising government online Receive email alerts to go further News February 3, 2021 Find out more Reporters Without Borders “firmly condemns” the four-year prison sentence which a Damascus state security court passed this week on writer and poet Firas Saad for disseminating allegedly false information online. Currently held in Saydnaya prison north of the capital, he was accused of undermining the “integrity of the state” and “national sentiment.”“This sentence is unjust because all Saad did was criticise the government,” the press freedom organisation said. “It is one more case of the government cracking down on its opponents. The sentence also serves to discourage Syrians from expressing their views and thereby reduce the Internet to silence. We call on the authorities to free Saad at once.”Arrested in November 2006, Saad was first taken before the state security court on 24 June 2007, but the trial was postponed twice. He was convicted under article 286 of the criminal code, which punishes “any person who disseminates information considered false or exaggerated and liable to weaken national morale.”Saad upset the authorities with the articles he posted on Syrian websites that are often blocked within Syria. The article that prompted his arrested, entitled “What did the Syrian army do in Israel’s war against Lebanon,” was posted on the Syrian site Al Hiwar Al Moutamaden http://www.ahewar.org/debat/show.art.asp?aid=70127), which means “Modern Discussion”.It criticised the Syrian government’s “defeatism” during the July 2006 war in Lebanon and described government officials as people who are “corrupt to the hilt and who repress rather than defend Lebanon.”Saad, who comes from the northwestern town of Al Lathqiyah, has had two collections of poems published and has written many articles on Syria’s political and economic situation.Syria is one of the world’s most repressive countries as regards the Internet. Under regulations that took effect in July 2007, website owners are required to keep the personal data of everyone who posts articles and comments on their sites. Tariq Omar Biasi, a 22-year-old blogger, was arrested the same month for posting a comment online that was very critical of the government. He is still being held without any explanation being provided by the authorities. He is due to be tried this month.Read Saad’ article (arabic) News Wave of Kurdish arrests of Syrian journalists News SyriaMiddle East – North Africa Organisation Follow the news on Syrialast_img read more