News

February 4, 2020

Well-known Syrian journalist’s alleged abductor arrested in France

Reporters Without Borders (RSF) welcomes last week’s arrest in France of Islam Alloush, a former Syrian rebel commander suspected of abducting the well-known journalist and human rights defender Razan Zaitouneh in 2013. His arrest offers an opportunity to combat impunity for crimes against Syrian journalists, RSF said.

The onetime spokesman of the Syrian Jihadist group Jaysh al-Islam, Alloush was arrested in the French city of Marseille on 29 January and was formally placed under investigation two days later on suspicion of “war crimes,” “acts of torture and complicity in torture,” and “complicity in enforced disappearances.”

 

Awarded the Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought in 2011, Zaitouneh was abducted by Jaysh al-Islam in Douma (in Eastern Ghouta) on 9 December 2013 along with her husband, Wael Hamada, and two colleagues, Samira Al-Khalil and Nazem Al-Hammadi. They have been missing ever since.

 

Hundreds of journalists and bloggers have, like them, been the victims of enforced disappearances in Syria.

 

“This arrest in France is unprecedented since the war began in Syria in 2011,” said Sabrina Bennoui, the head of RSF’s Middle East desk. “It offers the hope that one of perpetrators of the most prominent enforced disappearance of journalists in Syria may finally be convicted. We count on the French judicial system’s diligence to ensure that this trial ends the past nine years of total impunity for crimes against journalists in Syria.”

 

Alloush was arrested as a result of a complaint that an RSF partner, the Syrian Centre for Media and Freedom of Expression (SCM), filed with the French national prosecutor’s office for terrorism last June, accusing Jaysh Al-Islam members of acts of abduction, torture and execution in Eastern Ghouta from 2012 until April 2018.

 

Jaysh Al-Islam imposed a reign of terror in Eastern Ghouta until the Assad regime defeated the group and recovered control of the region in 2018

 

Syria is ranked 174th out of 180 countries in RSF’s 2019 World Press Freedom Index.