President of Syria since 17 July 2000
Predator since taking office
Syria, 173st/180 countries in the 2021 World Press Freedom Index
PREDATORY METHOD: Criminal and bloody dictatorship
Ever since inheriting the Syrian presidency on his father’s death, Bashar Al-Assad has done everything possible to deserve the title of press freedom predator. Long before the start of the uprising and civil war in March 2011, the authorities kept a tight grip on the news reported in the state media and routinely banned foreign journalists from entering the country, while the cyber-police hunted down anyone whose online activities were deemed to pose a threat to the regime’s interests.The situation has deteriorated terribly since 2011. Assad is now at the centre of a ferocious system of repression that relies not only on his feared intelligence services but also on “shabihas,” civilian thugs who terrorise journalists and anyone presumed to be an opposition supporter. Hundreds of journalists have been physically attacked, arrested, detained arbitrarily and tortured.
FAVOURITE TARGETS: All journalists, without distinction
OFFICIAL DISCOURSE: Total cynicism
“She worked with the terrorists, and because she came illegally, she's been responsible of everything that befall on her.” (Referring, in an interview in English for NBC on 14 July 2016, to Sunday Times journalist Marie Colvin, who was killed while covering the deliberate bombardment of civilians in Homs).