By Steve Sweeney – Jul 19, 2022
SYRIAN journalist Mohammad al-Saghir must be released by the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), global unions said today as he started a hunger strike in protest against his treatment.
The correspondent for the al-Ikhbariyah news channel has been held by the Kurdish-led authorities in Syria’s Hasakah province since June 2019 when it is alleged he was abducted.
Fears have been raised over his health with his colleagues concerned over his safety while his family say he has suffered a number of strokes while in jail.
Friends and colleagues have alleged that Mr Saghir has been tortured in custody.
The journalist was targeted because of his reports over the plunder of the regions wheat and oil resources by US occupying forces.
He also alleged that the SDF was responsible for the burning of crops and helping the US smuggling operations.
Britain’s National Union of Journalists condemned the treatment of Mr Saghir today and said that he must be freed.
“The National Union of Journalists joins calls by the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) for the immediate release of Mohammad al-Saghir.
“The union urges those responsible for his detention to end his imprisonment and prevent the targeting of journalists, ensuring press freedom is permitted without fear of reprisal,” a statement said.
The IFJ has previously called for the SDF to stop intimidating journalists working in areas operating under its control.
The SDF did not answer questions posed by the Morning Star regarding the case and it is unclear what Mr Saghir has been charged with and even if he will be brought to trial.
Former manager of news channel Modar Ibrahim told the Morning Star that while it believes that the SDF has no right, and no legal or moral jurisdiction to arrest or judge Mr Saghir, many sides had made efforts to secure his release.
But he said that despite Mr Saghir’s deteriorating health and prison conditions “the US-backed militia refuse to release him.”
Al Ikhbariya spokesman Dr Mazen Khadow told the Morning Star that the correspondent was “kidnapped because he exposed this militia for its true nature in looting the country’s wealth, cooperating with the American occupation, and exposing the crimes of the former ISIS organisation.”
He explained thar Mr Saghir had been punished by being held in a cell with the jihadists, adding that they are confident that by the hunger strike “their dirty bet will be defeated.”
Sources close to the SDF have confirmed to the Morning Star that the US is stealing the region’s wheat and oil, saying that journalists are reluctant to speak out for fear of reprisals.
Syria faces serious food shortages as a result of the theft, coupled with the US-imposed Caesar Act sanctions aimed at starving the population into submission and overthrowing the Damascus government.
Earlier this year, US official Victoria Nuland offered a partial sanctions waiver to regions outside government control, including the Autonomous Area of North East Syria and provinces held by Turkish-backed jihadists.