Sha'ban Abboud, Damascus correspondent for the leading Lebanese daily Al-Nahar, was detained by Syrian authorities on March 2, according to the paper. Abboud was accused by a military court of publishing false information following a February 28 article on nominations within the security and intelligence services, Syrian rights lawyer Anwar Bunni told Agence France-Presse. According to Al-Nahar, Abboud was released on bail March 7, following the intervention of fellow journalists and human rights groups. He faced three years in prison if convicted by a military court, according to news reports.

On June 7, a military court found Muhammad Ghanem, editor of the news Web site Surion, guilty of insulting the president, undermining the state's dignity, and inciting sectarian divisions. Ghanem was sentenced to one year in jail, but the judge commuted his sentence to six months, Surion said, without offering further explanation. Ghanem had been detained since March 31, Surion and human rights organizations reported. He had written many articles advocating political and cultural rights for Syria's Kurdish minority and had been critical of the Baath Party's handling of domestic issues.

Security agents arrested Palestinian-born Swedish journalist Rachid al-Hajeh at the Damascus airport on June 16 and threatened to charge him with insulting the Syrian state. The arrest stemmed from a Swedish television interview conducted 10 years earlier with a Syrian seeking asylum, according to Sweden's Foreign Ministry. In the interview, the Syrian was reported to have made critical comments about his home country, attracting the attention of Syria's secret service, news reports said. Throughout al-Hajeh's detention, Swedish Embassy officials were not allowed to see him, or to attend his interviews and court proceedings. He was released on June 27.

Human rights activist and freelance journalist Ali Abdallah and his son Mohammad were released October 4 after completing six-month sentences for "disturbing public order," "spreading false information likely to harm the financial prestige of the state," and "insulting a high-ranking public employee," according to CPJ sources. Abdallah's son was arrested immediately after protesting his father's arrest in an interview with the satellite channel Al-Jazeera. According to CPJ sources, the questioning of Abdallah and his son by the president of a military tribunal focused on the journalist's opinion pieces and his son's interview with Al-Jazeera. Abdallah is a regular contributor to Lebanese papers, including the daily Al-Nahar, and to the London-based daily Al-Quds al-Arabi.

Information Minister Muhsin Bilal ordered the closure of the country's only private satellite channel, Sham TV, eight months after it launched. The October 30 order was issued orally to owner Muhammad Akram al-Jundi, a member of parliament, and to Director Maamun al-Bunni, according to the independent AKI Press agency, which cited government sources. The closure came on the day Sham TV was scheduled to air its first news report and five weeks after it began broadcasting from outside Damascus, the U.N. news agency IRIN said. The report quoted al-Bunni as saying that problems with the paperwork for the station's broadcast rights had led to the government order. He said that Sham TV would be back on the air.

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