NE Syria must release critically ill journalist: union

Union calls for release of critically ill journalist in northeast Syria detention
2 min read
17 September, 2021
The IFJ has been concerned about the Syrian journalist’s health condition and has demanded more information on his arbitrary arrest.
More than 300 journalists have been arrested in Syria since 2011 [Getty-file photo]

An international federation of journalists' unions on Friday urged the authorities in northeast Syria to release jailed journalist Mohammed Al-Sagheer after his family said he was in a critical health condition.

Al Sagheer was arrested in June 2019 and sentenced to 25 years in jail by a military anti-terrorism court. 

He has suffered from having multiple strokes in just two months, his family told the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ), and his condition has been deteriorating ever since. 

“The IFJ leadership are all shocked to hear the news about the very serious mental and physical state of our colleague caused by his imprisonment and his suffering from multiple strokes while in jail”, the IFJ said in its letter to senior northeast Syrian official Ilham Ahmed.

The IFJ, its Syrian affiliates, and Al-Sagheer’s family have been trying to obtain information on the state of his health for over two years now, the federation said.

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The IFJ said it found the accusations Al-Sagheer faced "implausible", calling him "a well-known journalist who reported on the daily life of people living in the region and ongoing economic and security hardships they faced.

We call on you as the president of the SDC’s Executive Committee and on the SDF to release our colleague so he can spend his remaining days with his wife, daughter, and son”, the letter concluded. 

In what could be a glimmer of hope for Al-Sagheer, journalist Khalid Alhasan, who was arrested in the same anti-terrorism case, was released from jail in August. 

According to data from the Syrian Centre for Media (SCM), more than 300 journalists have been arrested in Syria and nearly 100 have been the victims of abduction since 2011.

The Kurdish-led authorities in northeast Syria have previously been accused by press freedom groups of arbitrary arrest of journalists and other media workers.