Syria: Journalist detained accused of “spreading disinformation”

State-TV journalist Hala Al-Jarf was detained on January 23 in the centre-west city of Salamaniyah, accused of “spreading disinformation and misinformation on digital media platforms with the aim of causing confusion and distort public opinion.” The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) calls for her immediate release.

Journalist Hala Al-Jarf

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”.

For more information, please contact IFJ on +32 2 235 22 16

The IFJ represents more than 600,000 journalists in 146 countries

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