Akram Raslan, Al-Fedaa
Medium:Internet, Print
Imprisoned:October 2, 2012

Raslan, a cartoonist who worked for the Hama-based newspaper Al-Fedaa and contributed to several other news websites, was arrested by intelligence officials at his workplace in Hama, according to news reports. Raslan's cartoons, which criticized the regime of President Bashar al-Assad, had been published on his blog and a number of websites, including that of Al-Jazeera.

Conflicting reports emerged about Raslan's status. Cartoon Rights Network International (CRNI), which has closely tracked Raslan's case, reported that he might have been executed by the Syrian regime after being sentenced to life imprisonment on July 26, 2013. But after reports emerged in October 2013 that Raslan was still alive and his family said it could not confirm his death, CRNI amended its statement and said it was working to verify those claims.

In June 2014, CRNI reported that the Syrian permanent mission to the United Nations admitted that Raslan had been arrested for publishing cartoons that "offended the state's prestige" and that he was under investigation.

But in September 2015, the Syrian news outlet Souriatna Press reported Raslan had died in custody a few months after his arrest, citing an unnamed detainee who was recently released from prison. According to the detainee, Raslan died in a hospital where he had been transferred for treatment after his health deteriorated in connection with torture. The report prompted a wide outpouring of support for Raslan from Syrian journalists, cartoonists, and activists.

As of late 2016, the Syrian government had not publicly confirmed or denied the Souriatna Press report. CPJ called the Syrian permanent mission to the United Nations in October 2015 and was told to send questions about Raslan via email. CPJ had not received any response to its questions as of late 2016.

Thousands of Syrians have disappeared into Syrian custody since the start of the uprising in 2011. According to a 2015 Human Rights Watch report, families are often forced to pay large bribes to learn any information about their relatives, and other families never approach the security branches for fear of being arrested themselves. Of 27 families of deceased prisoners interviewed by Human Rights Watch for the report, only two received formal death certificates.

CPJ continues to list Raslan on the prison census as a means of holding the government accountable for his fate.

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