Syria: Writer Michel Kilo sentenced

English PEN protests the three-year prison sentence handed down to writer Michel Kilo on 13 May 2007 for his dissident writings and pro-reform activities.

According to PEN’s information, prominent writer and journalist Michel Kilo, who contributes to the leading Lebanese daily Al-Nahar and the London-based Arabic-language daily Al-Quds Al-Arabi, was first arrested on 14 May 2006. He is among 10 Syrian civil society activists arrested between 14 and 18 May 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. These arrests appear to be part of a renewed crackdown on government opponents in recent months, during which scores have been arrested for their peaceful opposition activities.

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 on 13 May 2007 by the Damascus Criminal Court, charged with ‘spreading false news, weakening national feeling and inciting sectarian sentiments’ with 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.

Michel Kilo is detained at ‘Adra prison near Damascus, where he is reportedly being treated well and granted full access to his family.

***UPDATE 13 February 2008: Kilo is now also facing charges at the Damascus Military Court for promoting the Beirut-Damascus Declaration while in prison***

Please send appeals:

• Protesting the three-year sentence handed down to journalist Michel Kilo solely for his legitimate pro-reform activities;
• Protesting the detention of all writers currently detained in Syria for expressing their views, including Michel Kilo, and calling for their immediate and unconditional release in accordance with Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Syria is a signatory.


His Excellency President Bashar al-Assad
President of the Republic
Presidential Palace
Abu Rummaneh, Al-Rashid Street
Damascus, Syrian Arab Republic
Fax: 963 11 332 3410

His Excellency General Ghazi Kan’an
Minister of Interior, Ministry of Interior
Merjeh Circle
Damascus, Syrian Arab Republic
Fax: 963 11 222 3428

It may be more effective to forward appeals via Syrian representatives in London:

HE Mr. Sami M Khiyami
Embassy of the Syrian Arab Republic
8 Belgrave Square
London SW1X 8PH
Fax: 020 7235 4621

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