Assyrian blogger arrested in Syria

March 4, 2008

Osama Edward Mousa is an Assyrian (Syrian Christian) journalist, blogger and human rights activist. According to Mideast Youth ((Mideast Youth » Assyrian blogger arrested in Syria)), Mousa was arrested by Syrian authorities on February 27. Since then, he has not been heard of, but seems to be held in a Damascus prison. It is feared that he witnesses torture.

Although no reason was given for the detention, it seems as if Mousa was a victim of his online writing. Apparently he was arrested directly due to content on his blog, where he criticized the Syrian government and its economic policies.

Mousa is the second blogger currently imprisoned in Syria. He joins long-term arrested Tariq Baiasi ((Blogger for Freedom » Arrested Bloggers: Tariq Baiasi)), who has been held in custody since July last year. Prior to them, at least three further Syrians had been detained by security forces, as our list of arrested bloggers shows ((Blogger for Freedom » Arrested Bloggers)). Syria is notorious for its human rights abuse and a significant lack of press freedom. When the Reporters without Borders’ annual report on press freedom ((Reporters without Borders » Annual Report)) was released last month, it noted that “the filtering of online traffic significantly increased”, threatening bloggers such as Tariq Baiasi. He was subsequently arrested due to an anonymous comment left on his blog.

In the case of Osama Edward Mousa, it is not a rarely known blogger, but a political journalist who is imprisoned. Other than Baiasi, Mousa seems to have been become the victim of his own writings. There are close to no informations about his arrest; however it shows that the Syrian government and police do not care much for human rights and will continue threatening press freedom even in 2008.

Update: Esra’a of Mideast Youth has informed us that Mousa was released from prison on March 8 ((Mideast Youth » Assyrian blogger arrested in Syria)), but did not give any further informations about the backgrounds of the detention.