May 21, 2012

Ambassador Imad Moustapha
Embassy of Syria
2215 Wyoming Ave. NW
Washington, DC 20008
Fax: (202) 265-4585

Dear Ambassador Moustapha,

On behalf of the 3,000 members of PEN American Center, an international organization of writers dedicated to defending freedom of expression wherever it is threatened, we are writing to welcome the release of writer Salama Kila, but we remain concerned for his well-being following his deportation to Jordan.

According to our information, on May 13, 2012, Salama Kila, who is of Palestinian origin, was released from detention, where he had been held incommunicado since his arrest on April 23 for an article he published in the newspaper Al-Yasari. He was reportedly subjected to torture and ill-treatment while detained, and was subsequently separated from his family and deported to Jordan, where he has no means of support. Kila, who suffers from cancer, depends on his family for the treatment he has been receiving for the last two years.

Kila was previously detained for eight years in Syria in the 1990s as a result of his writings. After his release in November 2000, he has published 12 books on Middle Eastern politics despite being under continued threat from the Syrian authorities. He had to report to interrogation centers every month and was stripped of his civil and political rights.

PEN American Center is seriously concerned about the well-being of Salama Kila and protests his arrest and subsequent deportation solely for his peaceful expression of his political views. We call for a full and impartial investigation into allegations of his torture in detention, and we also call for the release of all those currently detained in violation of their right to freedom of expression as protected by Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Syria is a signatory.

Thank you for your attention to this critical matter.

Hannah Pakula
Chair, Freedom to Write Committee

Larry Siems
Director, Freedom to Write and International Programs

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