Last updated: 13 December, 2011

Syria charges blogger with three crimes

Syrian-American blogger Razan Ghazzawi, who was arrested this month, has been referred to court and charged with three crimes, the Syrian Centre for Media and Free Expression said on Tuesday.

Ghazzawi was accused of “establishing an organisation that aims to change the social and economic status of the state,” weakening national sentiment and stirring racist and religious dissent, the centre said in a statement.

Syrian authorities arrested Ghazzawi at the border with Jordan on December 5 as she headed to Amman to take part in a workshop on press freedom in the Arab world, activists said.

The Centre for Media and Free Expression has called for the immediate and unconditional release of Ghazzawi, who has been blogging on her “Razaniayat” website since 2009.

Social networking sites have played a key role in mobilising the anti-regime protests which have swept Syria since mid-March. More than 4,000 people have been killed, according to the United Nations, in Syria’s crackdown on dissent.

Foreign journalists are mostly banned from covering the unrest, leaving the international media dependent on reports from activists and videos on YouTube and other Internet sites, posted at the risk of arrest.