Continued Detention of Journalist ‘Ali Al-‘Abdullah
PEN International is seriously concerned about the continued detention of journalist ‘Ali al-‘Abdullah, whose two-and-a-half-year sentence for his dissident writings and peaceful opposition activities expired in June 2010. Abdullah now faces new charges of “disseminating false information” for an article he wrote in prison. He appeared before a Military Court in Damascus on February 7, 2011, and pleaded not guilty to the charges. PEN considers ‘Ali al-Abdullah to be targeted solely for the peaceful exercise of his right to freedom of expression as guaranteed by Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Syria is a party, and calls for his immediate and unconditional release.
According to PEN’s information, Abdullah has been kept in prison since the expiry of his two-and-a-half-year sentence on June 16, 2010. His continued detention stems from the publication of an article in late 2009 in which he criticized Syrian-Iranian relations. He appeared before a Military Court on February 7, 2011, on charges of "disseminating false information." During the court session, Abdullah told the court that his statements did not “constitute a crime for which he should be tried because he has a natural right to his opinion.”
‘Ali al-Abdullah was arrested on December 16, 2007, and sentenced on October 29, 2008, to two and half years in prison for “disseminating false information with the aim of harming the state,” “membership of a secret organization designed to destabilize the state,” and “inciting ethnic and racial tension” for his dissident writings and peaceful opposition activities. Abdullah was arrested with his son Muhammad ‘Ali al-‘Abdullah following their participation in a peaceful demonstration outside the Supreme State Security Court (SSSC) on March 22, 2007. Another of ‘Ali al-‘Abdullah’s sons, Omar, has been detained since March 18, 2006, for his involvement in a pro-democracy youth movement. Their arrests are part of an ongoing crackdown on government opponents who are being targeted for their peaceful opposition activities.
‘Ali al-‘Abdullah was previously arrested in May 2005 and detained for over five months for his opposition activities.
Write A Letter
- Protesting the new charges against writer and journalist 'Ali al-'Abdullah;
- Calling for his immediate and unconditional release in accordance with Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Syria is a signatory;
- Urging that he is allowed full access to his family and lawyer;
- Seeking assurances of his well-being in detention.
Send Your Letter To
His Excellency President Bashar al-Assad
President of the Republic
Abu Rummaneh, Al-Rashid Street
Damascus, Syrian Arab Republic
Fax: +963 11 332 3410
Major Sa’id Mohamed Samour
Minister of Interior
Ministry of Interior
‘Abd al-Rahman Shahbandar Street
Damascus, Syrian Arab Republic
Fax: +963 11 222 3428
Please copy appeals to the diplomatic representative for Syria in your country if possible.