Turkey detains prominent British-Syrian journalist Rami Jarrah
Independent journalist Rami Jarrah. (blog.witness.org)
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A British journalist of Syrian descent has been arrested in Turkey where he had sought refuge after covering the conflict in Syria, his home country. Press freedom watchdogs appealed to the Turkish authorities for his release.
Rami Jarrah, 31, became a prominent independent reporter in the early stages of the Syrian revolution. His initial work was done using thepseudonym of Alexander Page.
The journalist was detained on Feb. 17, as he was applying for residency in the southern Turkish city of Gaziantep, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ). Reasons for his arrest were not clear.
"Jarrah is known for his independent reporting on the war in Syria, which he has been covering for years at great risk," CPJ Europe and Central Asia Program Coordinator Nina Ognianova said. "Syrian journalists like Jarrah, who have turned to Turkey for safe refuge, should be protected rather than subjected to detention and harassment."
Born in Cyprus to Syrian dissidents, Jarrah spent his formative years in London after his parents relocated there in the 1980s. Jarrah moved to Damascus in 2004. When the protests began in Syria in 2011, he became a political activist and a much sought-after commentator for international news agencies including the New York Times and CNN.
Later the same year, he sought refuge in Turkey with his wife and child, fearing persecution from the Assad regime. There, Jarrah co-founded citizen journalist group ANA Press. Since then he has continued to report on the Syrian conflict, doing crossborder work.
Activists demanding his release have launched an online campaign. "Rami has risked his life to report from under the bombs in Syria and tell the world the truth about the war crimes being perpetrated against civilians," the petition read.
"He has been outspoken about abuses on all sides, including Russia and Isis. Since the beginning of the uprising, he has pursued the truth in the belief that this was the surest way to freedom and justice. Rami should not be behind bars. Rami should be free to continue serving his country and the region."
Reports claim that Jarrah was held in a detention facility for foreign citizens but was then relocated to a different facility late on Feb. 18.
Turkey has one of the worst records for press freedom in the world, as reporters are often arrested and imprisoned arbitrarily.