Riad Seif

  • Political : National Figure
  • City: Damascus
  • Date of Birth: Tuesday, 01 January 1946
  • Place of Birth: Damascus
  • Educational attainment: Industrial

Riad Seif’s Biography
Riyad Saif is a businessman who entered the field of politics in 1994, winning the highest percentage of votes in the elections of the People's Assembly in Damascus. He was harassed and ill-treated by Assad’s security apparatus after he began speaking out against corruption and repression in the country, especially against the corrupt pillars of the regime and its clique. He paid a heavy price for daring to defy the Assad regime, which killed his son in 1996 and forced his business into bankruptcy in late 1999.

Following the death of Hafez Al-Assad in 2000 and the succession to power of his son Bashar, Seif assembled leading Syrian intellectuals and independent voices to discuss how to open up Syria's political system. The group met regularly in Seif's house and was later dubbed the Forum for National Dialogue. It was the first of several forums that marked the onset of the Damascus Spring.

In 2011, Seif questioned the monopoly on the new cellular telephone system granted to Assad’s maternal cousin Rami Makhlouf. He was convicted and sentenced to five years in prison after calling the deal a big scandal. He spoke out against the deal loudly in parliament and presented a detailed study showing how it risked costing Syria millions of dollars.

Following his release from prison in January 2006, Seif co-founded the National Council of the Damascus Declaration, with its first meeting being held in Seif’s house. He was elected as the Secretary-General of the Council comprising 167 dissident figures.

In early 2008, and a few days after the establishment of the Council, Seif was arrested and imprisoned in Adra Prison for two and a half years together with other leaders of the Damascus Declaration.

Following his release from prison in mid-2010, Seif was among the protestors who gathered in front of the Ministry of Interior on March 15, 2011, the day that marked the start of the Syrian Revolution.

While in Syria, Seif was elected a member of the executive office of the Istanbul-based Syrian National Council in 2011. He left Syria after several attempts on his life by the Assad regime. He was subjected to an assassination attempt just two days before leaving the country on June 13, 2011.

Seif is a co-founder of the Syrian National Coalition. He was elected as its Vice-president in its first presidential term. Seif is currently a member of the opposition’s High Negotiations Committee.

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