Syrian freelance journalist Ibrahim Awad is being held in a Jordanian refugee camp, and authorities have not disclosed any reason for his detention. (YouTube/Ibrahim Awwad)

Syrian journalist Ibrahim Awad arrested, held in refugee camp in Jordan

New York, November 22, 2021 — Jordanian authorities should immediately and unconditionally release Syrian freelance journalist Ibrahim Awad and allow journalists to do their job freely and without fear of reprisal, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today.

On November 15, four Jordanian police and intelligence officers raided Awad’s home in the Tla al-Ali neighborhood of Amman, the capital, where they seized his laptop, two cell phones, and an iPad, and took him into custody, according to news reports and the journalist, who spoke to CPJ today via messaging app from the Azraq refugee camp, where he is being held.

The officers first detained Awad at the headquarters of the General Intelligence Directorate, where he was tested for COVID-19 and held for about two hours; he was then moved to the city’s Security Directorate office, where officers took his fingerprints, he said.

Authorities then transferred Awad to a Security Directorate office in Zarqa, about 50 miles outside of Amman, and at about 4 a.m. on November 17 they brought him to the refugee camp in central-eastern Jordan, he told CPJ. He was being held in the camp’s quarantine area awaiting results from a COVID-19 test at the time he communicated with CPJ.

Awad told CPJ that his transfer document says he is banned from leaving the camp, and that authorities have not disclosed any reason for his arrest or any charges against him.

“It’s shameful that Jordanian authorities are holding Syrian journalist Ibrahim Awad without any disclosure of the alleged offenses he committed and any regard for his rights,” said CPJ’s Middle East and North Africa representative, Ignacio Miguel Delgado. “Jordanian authorities should disclose any charges against Awad or else release him immediately and unconditionally.”

The Azraq camp is managed jointly by the U.N. High Commission for Refugees and the Jordanian government-operated Syria Refugee Affairs Directorate, and hosts over 38,000 Syrian refugees, according to the UNHCR.

Awad told CPJ that the officers who raided his home produced a search warrant issued by the State Security Court, but did not inform him of the reasons for his arrest. He said he identified himself as a journalist during the raid and his detention. He has lived in Jordan for several years, and has a wife and children in Amman, according to reports.

Awad is a freelance journalist who contributes to outlets including the news websites Qasioun and The Levant News, and has presented commentary on the broadcasters Al-Jazeera and Syria TV. He frequently covers human rights and conflict in Syria, and recently covered arrests by Syrian intelligence agents and attacks on Syrian-Russian joint patrols.

He also posts news and commentary on his personal Twitter account, where he has about 1,500 followers, and his coverage has included discussion of Syrian government-affiliated forces’ alleged human rights abuses.

CPJ emailed Jordan’s Public Security Directorate and General Intelligence Directorate for comment, but did not immediately receive any replies.