Syrian journalist at risk of deportation after Jordan arrest

Syrian journalist at risk of deportation following arrest in Jordan
3 min read
20 November, 2021
Ibrahim Awwad was arrested and beaten by Jordanian security forces before being transported to the Azraq refugee camp and there are now fears he may be deported to regime-controlled Syria.
Ibrahim Awwad was arrested at his home in Amman [Social Media]

Jordanian authorities on Wednesday arrested a Syrian opposition journalist and three other Syrians in Amman, several Syrian and Arab media sources have reported.

Ibrahim Awwad was detained by Jordanian security forces who stormed his home in the Souq Al-Sultan area of the Jordanian capital and confiscated his laptop, phone, and other digital equipment, the Syrian online magazine Al-Qabdah said on Friday.

Awwad, who is from the town of Muzairab in Syria's restive southern province of Daraa, was then transported to the Azraq Refugee Camp and is now believed to be at risk of deportation.

He later said he was beaten in detention.

Two of the other people detained by Jordanian authorities were identified by Syrian news websites as Mohammed Tuqtuq and Abu Qasem Al-Zoubani, former commanders in the Free Syrian Army. The identity of the third is unknown.

Awwad's detention has outraged Syrians, with many people taking to social media to demand his release, using the Arabic-language hashtag #No_to_the_deportation_of_Ibrahim_Awwad.

Following the outbreak of the Syrian uprising against President Bashar al-Assad’s rule, Awwad covered protests and the conflict in Daraa province.

He left Syria in 2014 and moved to Jordan the following year, continuing to cover events in his home province from outside Syria and contributing material to several Arab media channels.

Prior to his arrest he announced in a live video on Facebook that he would be making a television programme about Iranian influence in Daraa province and in the wider Arab world.

Al-Qabdah magazine reported that it had managed to contact Awwad in detention by smuggling a mobile phone to him.

"I really don’t know why I was arrested and the Jordanian intelligence officer who came with the forces to raid my house didn’t tell me. They stormed my house, searched it, confiscated the devices, and took me by car to the Azraq camp."

He added that security forces had physically assaulted him.

"At the beginning, in my house I was not assaulted physically of verbally but then I was beaten, harassed, and treated badly all through the journey in the security car to the camp."

Awwad said though that he was in good health and that security forces inside the Azraq camp were treating him well, although an officer told him that he didn’t know the reason for his arrest.

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Awwad's home province of Daraa, which borders Jordan, was captured by regime troops from opposition forces in 2018, although it has remained unstable, with anti-regime protests and attacks on regime checkpoints.

Jordan has recently re-established relations with the Assad regime and re-opened its borders with Syria, but Awwad told Al-Qabdah that he had avoided discussing this subject publicly due to its "sensitivity".

There are approximately 658,000 registered Syrian refugees in Jordan although the total Syrian population in Jordan is estimated to be 1.3 million. On Friday, Jordanian Interior Minister Mazen Faraya said that 52,000 refugees had voluntarily returned to Syria since the Nassib-Jaber border crossing was reopened in 2018.