Friday, January 21, 2011

Syria: Palestinian journalist goes missing while doing research on Hamas

Source: International Freedom of Expression Exchange

(RSF/IFEX) - Reporters Without Borders is worried about Muheeb Al-Nawathy, a Palestinian journalist who went missing in Syria. His family has had no word from him since 5 January 2011, nine days after he arrived in Damascus to do research for a book he is writing about Hamas.

Nawathy was due to have returned on 9 January to Norway, where he has resided as a political refugee since 2007. His family reported his disappearance to the Norwegian police on 11 January. Reporters Without Borders calls on the Syrian authorities to do everything possible to locate him.

A former Gaza resident, Nawathy is regarded as a Fatah supporter. His first book, published in 2002, was entitled "Hamas from the inside". He used to work for the website of the Dubai-based satellite TV station Al-Arabiya.

His wife reported his disappearance to the Palestinian embassy in Oslo as well as to the Norwegian authorities, while his Gaza-based relatives and the Union of Palestinian Journalists have issued a joint appeal for information as to his whereabouts.

Meanwhile, Tal Al-Mallouhi, a 19-year-old student and blogger who has been detained since December 2009, was brought before a state security in Damascus for the second time on 17 January. Her first appearance before the court was on 19 November 2010, after she had been held incommunicado for nearly 11 months.

Mallouhi, who wrote about the Palestinian cause in her blog, is reportedly accused of spying for the United States. She is being held in solitary confinement in Duma prison, near Damascus. Internet users all over the world have been calling for her release ( ).