Before the detention Al-Jarf, one of the most recognized journalists in Syria and presenter of TV programme ‘With you on the air’, she published a post in her Facebook account in which she said: "Let your motto for the next stage be (Stay at home) and remain completely silent”.
She was arrested the following day by the government’s cybercrime division and sent to penal security in the Syrian capital city Damascus.
The Ministry of the Interior issued a statement on 31 January, stating that the Directorate of Criminal Security had arrested eight people, mentioning only their initials including her initials for the crime of “spreading disinformation on digital media platforms with the aim of causing confusion and distort public opinion”.
According to an IFJ report released in May 2020, Syrian is among many Arab countries who passed laws restricting freedom of expression, including United Arab Emirates, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Algeria, Jordan, Oman, Bahrain, Qatar, Kuwait, Mauritania, Egypt and Palestine. All have endorsed laws that generally contain controversial provisions on freedom of expression and freedom of the press.
IFJ General Secretary, Anthony Bellanger, said: “National laws cannot serve as tools to stifle freedom of expression and information. The IFJ urges the authorities for the immediate release of prominent journalist Hala Al-Jarf and calls on the Syrian government to reform its laws in line with international standards on press freedom and freedom of expression”.