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Syria: Razan Ghazzawi Arrested… Again

This post is part of our special coverage Syria Protests.

    UPDATE: Razan Ghazzawi was released on Saturday along with her female colleagues. At the time of writing these lines Razan's male colleagues were still in custody.

Syrian security forces have arrested Syrian blogger and freedom of speech advocate Razan Ghazzawi on Thursday during a raid on the offices of the Syrian Center for Freedom of Expression in Damascus where the activist works. Ghazzawi was arrested along with thirteen of her colleagues, including the head of the center Mr. Mazen Darwish.

This is the second time Razan Ghazzawi is arrested by the Syrian authorities. She was first detained in December 2011 at the Syrian-Jordanian border when she was about to attend a conference on freedom of expression online. Her arrest sparked an online outcry and an international campaign called for her immediate release. Razan was eventually released after spending 15 days in jail.

Ghazzawi is a US-born Syrian blogger who has contributed to Global Voices Online and Global Voices Advocacy. She is one of the few courageous bloggers in Syria who writes under her real name.

One of the Free Razan posters shared by supporters after Razan Ghazzawi was arrested in December last year

The Syrian blog Nidalat [ar] is one of the first outlets to break the news. It posts the following statement:

إننا في المركز السوري للدراسات والأبحاث القانونية ندين هذا الاعتقال ونطالب السلطات السورية بإطلاق سراحهم فورا ونعتبر هذه الخطوة تجاه المدافعين عن حرية التعبير تؤكد موقف وسعي السلطات السورية لخنق أي صوت وحتى خنق الأصوات المدافعة عن حرية التعبير وزيف الادعاءات بالانفتاح والحوار وتعديل الدستور والسماح بالحقوق الأساسية للإنسان.

We at the Syrian Center for Legal Studies and Research condemn this arrest and call on Syrian authorities to release [the activists] immediately. We consider that this action against the advocates of freedom of expression confirms the position of the Syrian authorities who want to stifle any voice advocating for freedom of expression. It exposes the false claims [of the Syrian government] about openness, dialog and constitutional reform.

The news caused disbelief among netizens who were very quick to react. Nadine Ghazzawi is Razan's sister. She tweets:

@NadineGhazzawi They arrested my sister Razan Ghazzawi again! She got arrested at work in the center of Damascus today evening

Journalist Ahmed Shihab-Eldin laments:

@ASE: Yet another sad day for #Syria and #FreeSpeech

BSyria remembers his last conversation with Razan:

@BSyria: I chatted with Razan yesterday. I asked her: Are u being harassed? She said, “No, I told u I'm not that important.” #FreeRazan #syria

For more reactions on Ghazzawi's arrest, please check the hashtag #FreeRazan on Twitter. A Facebook page calling for her release is also up.

This post is part of our special coverage Syria Protests.

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