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Last Updated: Wednesday, 11 February, 2004, 23:46 GMT
Syria 'bans activist from travel'
A Syrian human rights activist has said the authorities have prevented him from leaving the country on a private visit.

Haissam Maleh said the travel ban was linked to a speech on the human rights situation in Syrian he made in the German parliament last December.

Mr Maleh is a lawyer and chairman of the Syrian Human Rights Association.

He is among the 1,500 intellectuals who on Tuesday signed a petition urging President Basher al-Assad to introduce political reform.

Speaking to the BBC Newshour programme, Mr Maleh said officials took his passport at Damascus airport when he was about to board his flight to the United Arab Emirates and told him he could not leave the country.

He said he knew that the order for the ban came from the Syrian secret police who he met with on Tuesday to answer questions regarding the lecture he made in Germany.

Mr Maleh said the secret police objected to his speech where he connected the issue of human rights and the current situation in Syria.

The ban comes as a Lebanese newspaper on Tuesday published a petition by other activists, lawyers and intellectuals which calls for the release of all political prisoners and the lifting of the state of emergency in place since 1963.

Mr Maleh said the government had problems with the Human Rights Association, accusing it of interference.




SEE ALSO:
Syrian intellectuals urge reform
04 Feb 04  |  Middle East
Syria pressed over dissident's arrest
03 Sep 01  |  Middle East
Syrian opposition leader speaks out
06 Aug 01  |  Middle East
Bashar: A year of cautious reform
17 Jul 01  |  Middle East
Country profile: Syria
20 Jun 01  |  Country profiles


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