A New York-based journalists' rights body protested on Tuesday the arrest of the Damascus correspondent of Al-Hayat and urged Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad for his release.
Late last week, the official Syrian Arab News Agency reported that police officials had detained Ibrahim Hmaydi for publishing "false information."
According to Al-Hayat's Damascus bureau, he had written an article published on December 20 regarding Syrian preparations to host up to one million Iraqi refugees in the event of a United States-led strike on Iraq.
The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), a copy of whose letter to President Assad was received by AFP in Beirut, quoted a source at Al-Hayat as saying that he had been denied access to a lawyer.
"Although he has yet to be formally charged with a crime, he is expected to be turned over to the State Security Court and formally indicted," it added.
Hmaydi's arrest "represents a flagrant violation of the internationally guaranteed right to freedom of expression," CPJ said. "Journalists should never be arrested and threatened with criminal prosecution because of what they write."
Moreover, the CPJ called upon the Syrian leader to do everything within his power to ensure that Hmaydi was released at once and that any pending criminal prosecution against him is dismissed. (Albawaba.com)
© 2003 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com )