Syria: first lawsuit against withholding a website postponed
Administrative Judiciary Court in Damascus decided to postpone the lawsuit filed by administrators of the website “http://www.alnazaha.org” against Syrian Minister of Communications and Technical “Amr Salem,” to bound him to declare the reasons for withholding the site & its cancellation to the hearing of February 5 2008, after the Syrian minister admitted that the decision to withhold the site has come “at the direction of the Security Branch No. 225 of the military intelligence in Syria.”
The story of the case go back to 6/11/2007, when the administrators of Al-Nazaha website filed a lawsuit against Minister of Communications before the Administrative Judiciary Court of Damascus No. 9996 asking him to stop the decision to withhold the location of Al-Nazaha. As the court deliberated the issue at its hearings on 13/11 and 27/11 and 4 / 12 and 11/12 & then the case was postponed on the last hearing to 5/2/2008 upon the request of introducing the military intelligence chief and defense minister into the case.
The Syrian minister of communication has denied during the earlier hearings of the case that the decision of withholding the website has been issued from his ministry, without mentioning the entity that had issued that decision, until he finally announced at the last hearing the day before yesterday that the decision of withholding the site had been issued from a branch of the Syrian intelligence. This admission is due to the courage and determination of the site administrator lawyer “Sulaiman Abdullah” to continue in this case which was the first of its kind in Syria and the second case in the Arab world after the case of the Director of the Arab Charter in Egypt.
Al-Nazaha Website had been subjected to a series of severe harassment & intimidation before it was banned. This including burning their administrative office, as well as hacking the materials on their computers, as well as the decision of the company hosting the site domain to suddenly terminate their hosting on their server in November 2006, following security threats as Al-Nazaha website launched campaigns against corruption in Syria.
Gamal Eid Executive Director of the Arabic Network for Human Rights Information said “Administrators & directors of websites had always used to succumb to the hostility of Syrian government against Internet and accepting the fait accompli of submission to withhold. The courage Al-Nazaha site director may encourage others to address this hostile attitude of the freedom of Internet use and expose these violations.”
It is noteworthy that there is a sharp decline in the area of civil and political freedoms prevailing in Syria after the short duration of relevant freedom that followed President Bashar Assad taking power in Syria, where this decline of freedoms is targeting now the freedom to use the Internet to include thousands of banned websites, including political sites, Kurdish & social sites and cancellation of the latest global sites such as “You Tube” and the “blogSpot”, which allows the establishment of blogs of individuals.