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, where he had been covering events in the neighborhoods of Deir Baalba and al-Rabee al-Arabi for the network, according to accounts from local activists and press freedom groups.
On August 31, 2021, Ghalia Mardam Bek, manager of the Justice and Rule of Law program at Violations Documentation Center, a Syrian human rights group, told CPJ via email that they did not have any updates on Maamou’s status or whereabouts. Maamou’s name does not appear on Violations Documentation Center’s list of 8,000 detainees who were killed under torture in prisons run by the Syrian government.
In August 2021, CPJ emailed the Syrian Permanent Mission to the United Nations and the Syrian Interior and Defense Ministries to request information on Maamou’s legal status, whereabouts, health, and whether he is dead or alive, but they did not respond. CPJ also emailed Syrian human rights organizations, including Syrians for Truth and Justice and the Syrian Network for Human Rights, for further information about the status of Maamou, however none replied.
A 2021 report by the London-based Syrian Network for Human Rights found that over 100,000 people have been forcibly disappeared in Syria since 2011, the vast majority by the Syrian regime.