Assad Says Dissident Journalist Free to Leave Syria
Syrian President Bashar Al Assad said Wednesday that journalist Nizar Nayyouf was free to leave Syria if he so wished, reported AFP.
"He is no longer in prison, he is not forbidden to travel, he has permission to leave the country if wants to," the president told a news conference at the end of his three-day visit to France.
Nayyouf, 39, has been seeking leave to travel to France for medical treatment for illnesses that press watchdog groups attribute to his detention between 1992 and 2000 in a Syrian jail.
On Friday, Nayyouf said that he had been freed overnight after being "arrested" and held by intelligence agents for two days.
"They threatened me over information I was planning to reveal," he said.
Nayyouf said he was arrested in central Damascus last Wednesday while he was on his way for hospital treatment, and was freed at Jabla, south of the port city of Lattakieh.
But a Syrian official had denied that Syrian authorities had kidnapped Nayyouf.
The journalist and human rights activist was released in early May, months before his ten-year sentence ended. But Nayyouf protested days later that the authorities banned him from traveling outside the country for cancer treatment.
Nayyouf was being treated in Tishreen Hospital, where he went into frequent comas, according to a press release by the Syrian Human Rights Committee (SHRC), quoting his family.
The journalist was one of the few political prisoners remaining in the Syrian jails after hundreds were released following an amnesty issued by Assad last year.
The activist was reported released in April 2000, but the committee discovered he was only moved to Mazza prison, which was later closed down and turned into a museum.
While in jail, the journalist was awarded a UNESCO prize for press freedom.
According to the SHRC, Nayyouf was then allegedly offered freedom by authorities on the condition that he reject the $25,000 award – Albawaba.com