AN371/771 Political Anthropology: "Syria Detains Activist Who Had Visited U.S.
Syria Detains Activist Who Had Visited U.S.: 'Syrian security forces detained a human rights activist at the Damascus airport Sunday as he returned from a visit to the United States and France, and are holding him at a military detention facility in the Syrian capital, U.S. government officials and human rights groups reported yesterday.
The action against Ammar Qurabi, a 35-year-old dentist who serves as spokesman for an unauthorized human rights group in Syria, comes amid rising concern about a renewed crackdown on dissent by Syrian authorities that is said to have begun last year. The State Department's annual human rights report, released this month, reported an increase in arbitrary arrests over the past year, and international groups also have documented a toughening of Syrian measures aimed at harassing, intimidating and punishing critics of President Bashar Assad's government.
Qurabi, who represents the Arab Organization for Human Rights in Syria, had left Syria in January, associates said. He spent more than a month in the United States, attending a conference on Syria, meeting with other Syrian activists and giving a talk here sponsored by the Hudson Institute. Late last week, he flew to Paris to attend another conference on Syria organized by the Aspen Institute, then headed back to Damascus.'"