Today, CPJ joined 78 human rights and press freedom organizations in calling on the Syrian government to immediately and unconditionally release three imprisoned members of the Syrian Center for Media and Freedom of Expression. The center’s director, Mazen Darwish, has been imprisoned since 2012 along with his colleagues Hussein Ghrer and Hani al-Zitani.
The Syrian Anti-Terrorism Court is expected to issue a verdict on their contrived charges of “publicizing terrorist acts” on September 24. For more than two and a half years, the Syrian regime has imprisoned these essential voices for press freedom in Syria. According to Human Rights Watch, former detainees who were held with the men said they have been tortured and suffered ill-treatment during their incarceration.
In the aftermath of the murders of journalists James Foley and Steven Sotloff, this sham trial is a reminder that it is not just the Islamic State militant group that poses a serious threat to journalists in Syria.