Hani al-Zaitani is a member of the Damascus-based Syrian Centre for Media and Freedom of Expression (SCM). As crisis engulfed Syria in 2011, the SCM and its staff worked to document serious and widespread human rights abuses with a view to contributing to a process leading to truth, justice and reconciliation.
He was arrested on 16 February 2012, when plain clothes Air Force Intelligence agents raided SCM’s office in Damascus and arrested all present staff members. He had been held in incommunicado detention for several months. In November 2012, he was brought to `Adra prison, in the outskirts of Damascus, where he received a first visit by his relatives.
On 5 February 2013, he was charged before an investigating judge of the Anti-Terrorism Court who decided to maintain him in detention. The written indictment dated 27 February 2013 explicitly refers to his work to promote and protect human rights – actions which are held against him as part of an attempt to promote terrorist acts and to “stir the internal situation in Syria and so provoke international organizations to condemn Syria in international forums”.
A May 15, 2013 UN General Assembly resolution included a demand for his immediate release. On January 2014, the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention (WGAD) found that he had been arbitrarily deprived of his liberty due to his human rights activities and called for his immediate release. The United Nations Security Council demanded the release of all arbitrarily detained people in Syria in its resolution 2139, adopted on 22 February, 2014.
On 24 March 2014, the General Prosecutor of the Anti-Terrorism Court of Damascus presented charges against Hani al-Zaitani with publicizing terrorist acts pursuant Article 8 of the 2012 Anti-Terrorism Law.
On 9 June 2014, the government announced an amnesty, including for the charges Hani al-Zaitani faces. He had not been freed, however.
He has finally been released on 18 July 2015, but the charges against him have not been dropped.
On 31 August 2015, the Syrian Anti-Terrorism Court acquitted Hani al-Zaitani appliying the 2014 amnesty to his case.
Source: Reporters Without Borders
More articles about Hani al-Zaitani
“Hani al-Zaitani and Hussein Ghrer finally released“, 20 juillet 2015
“Free Human Rights Defenders Held 3 years“, 16 February 2015
“Free Prominent Rights Defenders”, 5 September 2014
“Trial of SCM members postponed”, 25 July 2014
“Activists Not Released Despite Amnesty”, 18 July 2014
“Syria : Free Key Rights Defenders”, 17 March 2014