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.
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."
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.
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
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.
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
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."
information, please contact IFJ on + 32 2 235 22 07
The IFJ represents more than
600.000 members in 131 countries