Reporters Without Borders (RSF) said that well-known citizen-journalist Ali Mahmoud Othman probably died in detention in 2013.
Othman gained prominence for his coverage of the Assad regime’s artillery bombardment of Homs and for helping foreign reporters. He disappeared after he was detained by the Assad regime in 2012.
“All possible light must be shed on the status of Ali Othman and the other journalists who disappeared after being arrested by the Syrian authorities,” RSF’s Middle East desk said.
“The survivors must be freed without delay, the bodies of those who died in detention must be returned to their families, and those responsible for their death or execution must be identified,” the advocacy group added.
Othman described the bombardment of Homs in the many live interviews he gave to international TV channels with his face unconcealed. He also helped foreign reporters operating clandestinely in the city, including Marie Colvin and Rémi Ochlik, who were killed in an artillery attack on the Baba Amr media center in Homs in February 2012.
Edith Bouvier, a French journalist injured in the same attack who was smuggled out of Syria with Othman’s help, told Le Figaro when Othman was arrested that “he had expressed the fear that he could be accused of colluding with a hostile country – France – and that helping us to get free might cost him his life.”
After being arrested by Syrian intelligence agents in Aleppo in March 2012, Othman was forced to make a “confession” that was recorded and broadcast on Syrian TV in April 2012. It included questions about his video reports, his relations with the participants in demonstrations, and his relations with foreign reporters.
According to RSF’s 2019 Press Freedom Index, Syrian ranked 174th in the world in terms of press freedom as journalists continue to be murdered and subject to tough restrictions. (Source: Syrian Coalition’s Media Department)