IFJ Accuses Syria Over Harrassment of Family of Exiled Journalist Nizar Nayouf

The International Federation of Journalists has called on the authorities in Syria to end the harassment of the family of exiled journalist and human rights activist Nizar Nayouf. The journalist’s father and brothers have lost their jobs, and have been told they must denounce their brother and his statements.

Nizar Nayouf, a Syrian national, lives in France after being freed from prison in 2001, after serving nine years on charges of disseminating “false” information. He is threatened with arrest should he return. Nayouf is Secretary General of Arab Organization for the defense of Expression and Press Freedom, and has been outspoken in his criticism of the authorities over the conditions for press freedom in the country.

The persecution of his family in Syria has been stepped up he spoke on the al-Jazeera TV network in July 2001 about a massacre he witnessed in the Tadmur prison.

“This is an appalling case of a vendetta being carried out by a spiteful and intolerant regime against innocent family members,” said Aidan White, IFJ General Secretary. “The Syrian authorities should provide protection and security for all of its citizens and not allow the systematic persecution of relatives because they resent Mr Nayouf being beyond their reach.”

Nizar Nayouf’s father has been dismissed from his position as village chief and three of his brothers Amjad, Mamdouh and Salah have lost their jobs, making their financial situation very difficult. Their requests to be reinstated in their positions have been met with demands that Nizar Nayouf must return to Syria and face arrest. A fourth brother, Hayyan, was attacked recently at the university where he studies English literature. The family has been told Hayyan will not be allowed to graduate later this year, and Mamdouh will not receive his Masters’ degree in economy unless they renounce their brother.

“When a journalist’s family is attacked like this it demonstrates a deep-seated intolerance and lack of respect for freedom of expression as well as profound unfairness and injustice,” says the IFJ. The Federation, which represents around 500.000 journalists in 100 countries, says the persecution of the Nayouf family should stop immediately.

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The IFJ represents more than 500,000 journalists in more than 100 countries