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Beirut, January 8, 2010

The Syrian authorities release the blogger Karim Arabji after two years
and seven months in prison

(7-1-10) - Damascus – a SKeyes Special Report

On Thursday evening, January 7, the Syrian authorities released the Syrian blogger
Karim Antoine Arabji before serving his full sentence, according to a statement given by
a human rights source in the Syrian capital Damascus to SKeyes.
In a phone conversation with SKeyes, the lawyer and human rights activist Khalil
Maatouk said that the Syrian authorities “released the Syrian blogger Karim Antoine
Arabji (31 years old) at five o‟clock in the evening on Thursday, six months before the
expiry of his sentence”.
Maatouk, who was Arabji‟s lawyer, explained that “the decision to release him by
withholding the remaining time of his sentence is tantamount to a special pardon issued
by the President of the Republic”, and noted that Arabji is in good health.
It should be mentioned here that Arabji‟s trial was suspended in July 2008, because of the
bloody incidents that erupted in the Sednaya prison, causing concerns regarding his fate
and the fate of the prison‟s inmates:
On July 5, 2008, the security forces used live ammunition to crush the riot that erupted in
the Sednaya military prison. The Syrian Committee for Human Rights (London) leaked
the names of nine prisoners who were killed at the hands of the prison authorities, while
other human rights sources indicated that the number of those killed exceeded one
hundred prisoners, amid a blanket media blackout imposed by the Syrian authorities
which prevented all forms of communication with the prisoners.
The Palestine Branch of the Military Intelligence had arrested the Syrian blogger Karim
Antoine Arabji on June 7, 2007. He was transferred on September 18, 2007 to the
Sednaya military prison pending his trial before the High Court of State Security, against
the backdrop of the articles he wrote in which he criticized the Syrian authorities, and
which he published in the Akhawyia [Fraternity] online forum.
On September 13, 2009, the High Court of State Security sentenced him to three years in
prison for „spreading false news that weakens the nation‟s morale‟, in accordance with
article /286/ of the Syrian General Penal Code.

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