Syrian writer Habib Saleh was sentenced to three years in prison for criticizing the country's government in a series of articles published on the internet.
Amnesty International considers him to be a prisoner of conscience, detained solely for
peacefully expressing his political views, and has called for his immediate and unconditional release.
The charges against Habib Saleh were related to several articles on domestic political issues that he had written and published online. He had
criticized policies of the Syrian government and expressed support for a prominent opposition figure, Riad al-Turk.
The 61-year-old was found guilty of weakening national sentiments (Article 285 of the Penal Code) and broadcasting false
or exaggerated news which could affect the morale of the country (Article 286). The court dropped other charges against him.
On September 13, 2009, the Syrian State Security Supreme Court sentenced the young blogger Kareem Arbaji to three-years prison for publishing mendacious information liable to weaken the nation's morale, under article 286 of the Syrian penal
Kareem Arbaji has been detained for over two years, since June 7th, 2007, by military intelligence officers.
Human Rights Reports reveal that Arbaji has been tortured during the detention:
Kareem Arbaji was detained before being tried, he received a cruel and disproportionate sentence even if he was convicted. He was tortured during investigations and ill treated for more than two years in prison.
It is likely that Arbaji has been arrested, detained and then sentenced for opinions he expressed on the blocked Syrian forum, Akhawiya, which he used to administrate along with other members.
The forum members have
created a page to honor and support their friend behind bars. A Facebook group too has been recently created in support of the jailed blogger.
As a headline from Reporters Without Borders stated today, the number of citizen journalists killed or arrested in Syria rises daily. While some, such as Razan Ghazzawi, who won Frontline Defenders' award for Human Rights Defenders at Risk, have
received ample international attention for their plight, many others have gone largely ignored by the media.
There is a new campaign centered on blogger Hussein Ghrer, who was arrested along with other bloggers and colleagues, including Ghazzawi,
in a raid on the Syrian Center for Media and Freedom of Expression (SCM) in February and is still in prison. The campaign, which is available in several languages, aims to draw attention to Ghrer's announcement of an indefinite hunger strike to demand
his unconditional release. Ghrer's nearly five-month long detention exceeds the maximum legal limits for incarceration without referral to court, which under Syrian law is 60 days.
Though the campaign is focused on Ghrer, Syrian blogger Yazan
Badran wrote recently: Make no mistake, #FreeRazan, #FreeBassel or #FreeHussein, all mean the same thing: We want them back, we want them all. The target of these campaigns is to raise awareness, as several bloggers who have been detained and then
released from Syrian prisons have reported their belief that the media attention they received helped them to evade torture. Activists have created several campaign images and are encouraging users on Twitter and Facebook to use them as avatars. They are
also utilizing the Twitter hashtag #FreeHussein.