By MAZEN ABBASS
By MAZEN ABBASS
February 8, 2012 (Al Arabiya)
As part of an overall plan to cover up for atrocities committed against unarmed civilians, the Syrian regime has embarked on an expansive campaign to silence Arab journalists abroad particularly, in Moscow.
The Syrian regime has accused Arab journalists based in the Russian capital of receiving money from the embassy of Qatar there in return for tarnishing Syria’s image through propagating “falsified” information about the regime’s actions against protestors, the Syrian Arab News Agency (SANA) reported.
In “Document unravels Qatari funding of journalists to media campaign against Syria,” SANA reported that a document dating back to Dec. 10, 2011, includes names of journalists and activists funded by the Qatari embassy in Moscow to take part in the Gulf nation’s conspiracy against Syria.
The document, published with the story, had been sent earlier to dozens of Moscow-based Arab journalists and several Russian media institutes via email. However, no evidence of the authenticity or source of the document was provided.
According to the SANA report, the people listed in the document are fabricating false stories about the Syrian regime and offering “misleading” coverage of the protests against president Bashar al-Assad.
The campaign launched by Syrian regime loyalists against Arab journalists in Moscow has been escalating since Russian officials began meeting delegations from the Syrian opposition.
Journalists covering those meetings are constantly harassed by regime thugs, known in Syrian slang as “shabeeha,” and warned of conveying a negative image of the regime in their reports on opposition statements.
They also threaten journalists who cover meetings between Russian officials and their Syrian counterparts against directing any “embarrassing” questions to the latter, especially ones related to the violent repression of peaceful protests.
Regime loyalists also launched a smear campaign against the journalists, who they accused of working for Israel and implementing Western agendas that aim at undermining the unity of Syria.
The Arab Press Club in Moscow issued a statement condemning the campaigns launched by the Syrian regime against Arab journalists and accused SANA of terrorizing them for their coverage of the regime’s brutality and for their defense of pro-democracy demands.
“The club will support all journalists listed in the document SANA published and will stand by them in any legal measures they decide to take against the agency,” said Hani Shadi, the Arab Press Club president.
Journalist, he added, will also file lawsuits against Syrian state TV and the Syrian minister of information for tarnishing the image of “honest” journalists.
(Translated from Arabic by Sonia Farid)