IFJ Raises Concerns over Arrest of Journalist amid Media Clampdown in Syria

The

International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) today called on Syrian

authorities to release journalist Mohamad Zaid Mastou, who was arrested on 6

April in Damascus by security agents and taken to an undisclosed location.

"The

manner of his arrest and the lack of information about his whereabouts raise

concerns for his safety and wellbeing," said Jim Boumelha, IFJ President. "The

Syrian regime must be in no doubt that the world is watching and this latest

case of repression of press freedom will not go unnoticed."

The

IFJ has learned that Mastou, a Norwegian national of Syrian Kurdish origin, was

in Syria covering the anti-government protests for the Arabic TV Al Arabiya's website,

Arabiya.net when he was arrested last Wednesday. The government agents

reportedly used violence to arrest the journalist who was sitting in a cyber

café in Damascus before bundling him in a car and driving away. Attempts by his

family to find out where he is detained have been in vain as the authorities

are refusing to provide any information thereabout.

The

IFJ says the arrest of Mastou comes in the wake of a major crackdown on media

in Syria as the government attempts to stifle reporting on the widespread protest

movement in several cities which have led to clashes between security forces

and protesters.

 

Media

freedom organisations

reported cases of threats, disappearances and arrests targeting journalists and

bloggers who were covering the protests. These include Reuters producer Ayat Basma and cameraman Ezzat Baltaji who went missing

on 26 March while journalists Doha Hassan, Zaher Omareen and Mohamed Dibo were arrested over the protests and

remain in detention.


The

IFJ calls on the international community to monitor violence against media by

the Syrian authorities in a desperate attempt to resist the popular uprising demanding political changes in the region and which has already toppled regimes in Tunisia and

Egypt.

"The

world needs to challenge the Syrian leadership over its brutal repression of

democratic debate and press freedom," added Boumelha. "Journalists must not be

scapegoats for the government's brinkmanship."

For more

information, please contact IFJ on + 32 2 235 22 07

The IFJ represents more than

600.000 members in 131 countries