August 28th 2006
His Excellency President Bashar al-Assad
From the non-political association PEN International we learn with dismay and alarm about the imprisonment of cyber-dissident Habib Saleh. He was convicted on August 16th following a trial which reportedly lacked due process.
International PEN condemns the imprisonment of Habib Saleh and calls for his immediate release. PEN is extremely concerned by the Syrian government’s continued imprisonment of writers who have exercised their right to freedom of expression.
We call for Habib Saleh’s immediate and unconditional release in accordance with Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Syria is a signatory. We also protest the detention of all writers currently detained in Syria for expressing their views, including Mohammad Ghanem, Michel Kilo, Ali al-Abdullah and Fateh Jamous, and call for their release. We are alarmed by reports that they are kept incommunicado and are at risk of ill-treatment. We demand that whilst detained they are granted access to their families, lawyers and any necessary medical treatment.
Your Excellency, we urge you to look into Habib Salah’s case, and also the cases of the other persons here mentioned, and we trust that you will see to it that they are given fair and just treatment, according to internationally accepted standards.
Translator, member of Norwegian PEN’s WiPC