Prominent activist released from Syrian jail

Prominent free-speech activist released from Syrian regime jail after more than 3 years of detention

Photo by: AP
Photo by: AP

A prominent free-speech activist who has been held in confinement for 3 and a half years has been released from a Syrian penitentiary on Monday, his wife said.

Mazen Darwish was detained in February, 2012 nearly one year after the beginning of the uprising against the Syrian regime and its leader Bashar al-Assad in Syria.

Darwish is expected to appear in court at the end of August, his wife Yara Badr told Reuters.

"We are not saying he is free. There is still a trial."

Darwish, 41, is the founder of the Syrian Centre for Media and Freedom of Expression. He was arrested by Syrian authorities on charges of spreading propaganda for terror under the counter-terrorism laws.

Darwish’s trial and alleged mistreatment has voiced concern with the international human rights organisations.


In February, The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights described the case of Darwish and two other members of his organisation -also detained at the same time - as “emblematic” of the plight of activists, lawyers and human rights defenders as targeted by government forces and militias without due process.

According to activists, Darwish’s colleagues, Hani al-Zaitani and Hussein Ghrer, were released last month after  an amnesty was announced as a gesture for the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Fitr. They have been unaccounted for in the first nine months of their detention.

US Secretary of State John Kerry, in a statement marking the third anniversary of Darwish’s imprisonment, called for his release of Darwish and his colleagues.

Kerry described him as one of tens of thousands of Syrian activists and political prisoners "faced [with] regime brutality"  for their support for human rights and nonviolent calls for change.

In May, Darwish received UNESCO’s annual press freedom prize in acknowledgement of his work along with multiple other awards. His wife accepted the award on his behalf.



TRTWorld and agencies