Nizar Nayyouf

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Nizar Nayyouf "is near death in solitary confinement in a Damascus military prison after years of torture and denial of adequate medical care. He was arrested on Jan. 10, 1992, and sentenced to 10 years in prison with hard labor for being a member of an “unauthorized” organization. He is secretary-general of the banned Committee for the Defense of Democratic Freedoms and Human Rights in Syria (CDF). He was also charged with disseminating false information via its monthly newsletter, Sawt al-Democratiyya (Democracy's Vote), of which he was editor in chief...

"Nayyouf was born in Syria on May 29, 1962. He graduated from the University of Damascus with degrees in political economy and economic development before beginning his journalistic career as a free-lancer. He was arrested in a massive government crackdown on CDF activists and supporters, during which security forces held his wife Nada and baby daughter Sara hostage to force him to turn himself in. He was tried, together with at least 17 other suspected CDF activists, between Feb. 29 and Mar. 27, 1992, by the Supreme State Security Court. The SSSC, which tries political and national security cases, operates under the state of emergency, not ordinary law, and does not observe constitutional provisions safeguarding defendants’ rights. Nayyouf received the longest prison sentence in connection with a CDF leaflet which detailed Syria’s human rights abuses and allegedly questioned the legitimacy of the December 1991 elections. According to independent observers, the proceedings did not meet with international standards of fairness. The defense lawyers were not permitted to meet with their clients before the trial and the judges ignored claims by the defendants that they were tortured. Apart from Nayyouf, four other CDF members — Muhammad 'Ali Habib, Thabit Murad, ‘Afif Muzhir and Bassam al-Sheikh — are still serving prison terms handed down by the SSSC during the trial...

"Since his imprisonment, Nayyouf has received many international human rights awards, including a Hellman-Hammett grant from Human Rights Watch, the PEN American Center’s Freedom-to-Write Award and the World Association of Newspapers’ 2000 Golden Pen of Freedom Award." [1]

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  1. Nizar Nayyouf, Free Media, accessed October 3, 2007.