Since Fares Maamou’s arrest by Syrian security forces in 2012, no news has emerged about the journalist’s status or whereabouts. Maamou was a contributor to the Damascus-based Shaam News Network and posted tens of thousands of videos documenting the unrest in Syria since the start of the uprising in March 2011. The network’s footage was used by international news organizations such as Al-Jazeera and the BBC.
Maamou was arrested in Homs, according to accounts from local activists and press freedom groups. Maamou had been covering events in the Homs neighborhoods of Deir Baalba and al-Rabee al-Arabi for the network, contributing reporting and footage.
Maamou’s name does not appear on the Syrian human rights organization Violations Documentation Center’s list of 8,000 detainees who were killed under torture in prisons run by the Syrian government.
As of late 2019, neither the Syrian mission to the United Nations nor the Syrian Interior Ministry had responded to CPJ’s emailed request for information on Maamou’s legal status, whereabouts, and health.
CPJ emailed associations representing Syrian detainees, including Families for Freedom, the Association of Detainees and Missing in Sednaya Prison, and the Syrian Association for Missing and Conscience Detainees for further information about the status of Maamou, but as of late 2019 none of them had replied.
Thousands of Syrians have disappeared into custody since the start of the uprising in 2011. A 2019 report by the London-based Syrian Network for Human Rights found that at least 98,000 people were forcibly disappeared—detained and not heard of again—in Syria between March 2011 and August 2019, with pro-Assad forces believed to be responsible for at least 83,500 cases. The same report said that the Syrian government has confirmed the deaths of 931 people in detention in the same period.