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Syrian Journalist Disappears after Getting Summoned by Cybercrime Police in Damascus

Syrian Journalist Disappears after Getting Summoned by Cybercrime Police in Damascus

Tuesday, 9 March, 2021 - 10:45
FILE PHOTO: A Syrian flag flutters in Damascus, Syria April 20, 2018. REUTERS/Ali Hashisho

“By the time you read this post I would have been detained,” wrote Syrian journalist Kenan Waqaf on his Facebook account on Saturday, 48 hours after being summoned by cybercrime police in Damascus.

Waqaf was arrested in September 2020 for his reporting on corruption in the Tartous Electricity Company, which was involved in shady photoelectric station deals with an influential businessman.

Press sources close to Waqaf said he went missing after heading to the cybercrime police department building near the Umayyin Square in Damascus.

“His friends tried finding him, but his phone was not reachable,” the sources explained.

On February 26, Waqaf published a report exposing a scandal linked to a district governor in Tartous.

Waqaf reported on how the governor and his son, who he kept anonymous, were implicated in kidnapping a volunteer soldier called Jaafar Hassan.

The governor’s son, however, was cited as claiming that Hassan, along with a group of his relatives, were behind a robbery that targeted the governor’s family manor.

Hassan’s father tried to take the governor to court for kidnapping his son but was ignored by authorities.

The governor and his son were demanding a payment of 200 million Syrian pounds, a sum they claimed equals the worth of the items allegedly stolen from the manor, to release Hassan.

It remains unclear if Waqaf’s reporting on the matter is connected to him being summoned by authorities.

Waqaf’s arrest in September spurred nationwide controversy after the Information Ministry got involved directly in his case.

Information Minister Imad Sarah stepped in to ensure Waqaf’s release after his detention having triggered unwanted reactions in Damascus.

“No journalist will be detained before the Information Ministry first being told the reasons behind the arrest,” Sarah promised.

It is worth noting that Waqaf reports for the local "Al-Wehda" newspaper in the Latakia governorate.

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