CPJ Calls for Immediate Release of Nizar Nayyouf
Syrian Journalist is Gravely Ill in Prison

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September 18, 1998

His Excellency Hafez al-Assad
c/o His Excellency Ambassador Walid Al-Moualem
Embassy of the Syrian Arab Republic
2215 Wyoming Avenue, N.W.
Washington, DC 20008


Your Excellency:

The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) writes to you about a matter of great urgency: the case of Nizar Nayyouf, a journalist, writer, and human rights activist, who is currently serving a 10-year prison sentence at Mezze military prison in Damascus. CPJ has recently learned that Nayyouf is suffering from a multitude of serious illnesses -- including Hodgkins disease, paralysis of his lower extremities, and kidney failure --and that his life is in jeopardy unless he receives immediate medical treatment. We understand that Syrian authorities have refused Nayyouf treatment for his Hodgkins disease -- which is curable with proper treatment -- unless he pledges to refrain from political activity and renounces alleged "false statements" he made about the human rights situation in Syria.

Since his arrest in 1992, CPJ has closely followed the case of Nayyouf, a leading member of the independent Committees for the Defense of Democratic Freedoms and Human Rights in Syria (CDF) and editor in chief of its monthly Sawt al-Democratiyya. Nayyouf committed no offense; he is in prison solely because of his attempt to practice his right to free expression with regard to the human rights situation in Syria.

As a nonpartisan organization of journalists dedicated to the defense of our colleagues' rights throughout the world, CPJ urgently calls on Your Excellency to ensure that Nizar Nayyouf receive immediate and thorough medical attention, and asks that you secure his immediate release from prison in accordance with free expression guarantees under international law and his failing health.

Thank you for your attention to this urgent matter. CPJ will continue to monitor all developments with regard to this case. We await your response.



Ann K. Cooper

Executive Director

Join CPJ's urgent appeal to Syrian president Hafez al-Assad, urging for the immediate release of imprisoned journalist Nizar Nayyouf. Click here for a letter you can print out and fax on on his behalf.