Syria: Writer Michel Kilo released

English PEN welcomes the release on 19 May 2009 of Syrian writer Michel Kilo. He was sentenced to three years in prison on 13 May 2007 for his dissident writings and pro-reform activities, and was freed on completion of his sentence.

According to press reports, Michel Kilo was released from Adra Prison in Damascus on 14 May 2009 at midnight. He was held for interrogation at the Intelligence Services headquarters in Damascus until 19 May 2009, then allowed to return home.  He is said to be in good health.


Prominent writer and journalist Michel Kilo had contributed to the leading Lebanese daily Al-Nahar and the London-based Arabic-language daily Al-Quds Al-Arabi. He was among 10 Syrian civil society activists to have been arrested in May 2006 for signing the “Beirut-Damascus Declaration” of 12 May 2006 calling for the establishment of diplomatic relations between Lebanon and Syria based on respect for each country’s sovereignty. Several hundred Syrian and Lebanese nationals signed the agreement. Michel Kilo was issued a provisional release order by a judge on 19 October 2006, but his release was obstructed by new charges filed by the prosecution on 23 October 2006. He was convicted by the Damascus Criminal Court on 13 May 2007 on charges of “spreading false news, weakening national feeling and inciting sectarian sentiments” for his dissident writings and pro-reform activities. Michel Kilo has been subject to persistent harassment by the Syrian authorities over the years as a result of his work in support of democratic rights.  

More information:

Dissident writer Michel Kilo freed in Syria (BBC report, 20 May 2009)
Journalist Michel Kilo free at last (RSF aler, 25 May 2009) 

***Thank you to all who took action on this case. ***

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