Omar al-Sha’ar, a journalist and translator, and Jadia Nofal, the Director of the Centre for Democracy and Civil Rights in Syria, travelled to Beirut, Lebanon, on 22 October through a regular border crossing. On their way back to the Syrian capital of Damascus the following week, the two men were stopped and held by immigration officials at the Syrian border. According to a local contact, Jadia Nofal and Omar al-Sha’ar were able to contact relatives while they were held at the border, and informed them that they were being handed over to members of the Syrian Political Security, one of several intelligence agencies operating in Syria. Information Amnesty International has received from former detainees indicates that torture and other ill-treatment is rife in detention facilities operated by these agencies.
Both men had previously been arrested as a result of their peaceful activism. Jadia Nofal was sentenced to five years in prison in 1992 as a result of his involvement with the Committees for the Defence of Democratic Freedoms and Human Rights in Syria. Omar al-Sha’ar was previously detained between November 2013 and January 2014 after being involved in peaceful political activities. Amnesty International understands that Omar al-Sha’ar is in ill-health as a result of the detention conditions following his last arrest.
The two Syrian men were held incommunicado for most of the time they were detained. An investigative judge ordered their release on bail on 17 December and they returned home the following day.
They are still on trial on charges including spreading “false news”, “weakening national sentiment” and belonging to an unauthorized organization.
Source: Amnesty International