On September 13, 2009, the Syrian State Security Supreme Court sentenced the young blogger Kareem Arbaji to three-years prison for ‘publishing mendacious information liable to weaken the nation’s morale,’ under article #286 of the Syrian penal code.
The thirty- one years old economics graduate, Kareem Arbaji, has been detained for over two years, since June 7th, 2007, by military intelligence officers.
Human Rights Reports reveal that Arbaji has been tortured during the detention:
Kareem Arbaji was detained before being tried, he received a cruel and disproportionate sentence even if he was convicted. He was tortured during investigations and ill treated for more than two years in prison.
It is likely that Arbaji has been arrested, detained and then sentenced for opinions he expressed on the blocked Syrian forum, Akhawiya, which he used to administrate along with other members. The forum members have created a page to honor and support their friend behind bars. A Facebook group too has been recently created in support of the jailed blogger. Several Syrian bloggers have expressed their anger at the courts order. The Arab bloggers league has also issued a statement denouncing Kareems sentence.
Below is an excerpt of The Arabic Network for Human Rights Information (ANHRI) report regarding the Syrian courts decision to sentence Kareem Arbaji:
ANHRI requests the Syrian government to immediately release Kareem Arbaji and all prisoners of conscience in Syrian dungeons, to abolish arbitrary detention policy and stop the security interference in judiciary affairs.
ANHRI asserts that the charge against Arbaji is a false one , only used as a pretext to inhibit freedom of expression and repress activists.
ANHRI also urges the Syrian government to eliminate the state security court as it is a stain to the Syrian justice.
It is worth to note that along with Kareem Arbaji, Syrian authorities sentenced several Syria bloggers in prison. On 11-5-2008 the State Security Court in Damascus stated its verdict on the Syrian blogger Tariq Biasi who was held in detention since 7-7-2007.
Also Tariq al-Ghorani (1985, assistant engineer) – Maher Ibrahim Esber (1980, a shop owner) – Husam Melhem (1985, a law student) – Omar al-Abdullah (1985, philosophy student) – Diab Siriyyeh (1985, student) – Ayham Saqer (1975, works at a beauty salon) – Allam Fakhour (1979, a student at the Faculty of Fine Arts – Sculpture Department) all were arrested, detained and sentenced for expressing their views on blogs and online forums, particularly on syriandomari blog and Akhawiya.
(Via Global Voices Advocacy.)