SKeyes Center for Media and Cultural Freedom - Samir Kassir Foundation

Syrian journalist Alaa Nayef al-Khader al-Khalidi died under state torture

Tuesday , 23 July 2019

The family of freelance Syrian photojournalist Alaa Nayef al-Khader al-Khalidi said they learned that Alaa allegedly died under torture in a military prison.

In 2016, Syrian government forces arrested al-Khalidi, a freelance photojournalist also known as Wissam al-Dimashqi, while he was covering clashes in the city of Douma, northeast of Damascus, according to Mohammad Nayef al-Khalidi, the journalist's brother, who spoke to CPJ via messaging app.

On July 12, 2019, a Syrian prison official sent a voice message to the journalist's family leaking information about al-Khalidi, saying that he had died in Sednaya Military Prison under torture, but did not tell them the exact date of his death, Mohammad Nayef al-Khalidi told CPJ. The family was not provided any documentation about the journalist's death, Mohammad Nayef al-Khalidi said.

Mohammad Nayef al-Khalidi told CPJ that government forces arrested al-Khalidi on June 26, 2016, and initially took him to the Branch 215 prison, which is run by Syrian military intelligence.

In September 2016, an anonymous caller told Mahmoud al-Khader al-Khalidi, another of the journalist's brothers, that the journalist was accused of doing media work for the opposition, and that his family could pay a large sum of money to have the journalist transferred from a military prison to a civilian one, according to a report by the France-based press freedom group the Syrian Journalists' Association. The journalist was eventually transferred to the Sednaya Military Prison, Mohammad Nayef al-Khalidi said.

Al-Khalidi reported on military clashes, as well as bombings and airstrikes on Douma, and he worked with the Douma Coordination Office, an organization that documented civilian deaths and casualties, his brother said. Syrian researcher and journalist Waseem al-Khatib, a close friend of al-Khalidi, told CPJ that al-Khalidi worked as a freelancer.

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