A criminal court under the authority of the Euphrates Shield forces in the city of al-Bab in the Aleppo countryside in northern Syria has given a six-month prison term and a fine to Dr. Mahmoud al-Sayeh, because of posts on social media, according to the Violations Documentation Center.
Syrians on social media shared the court’s decision, issued by Judge Ahmed al-Naimi, which called for Sayeh to be imprisoned and fined 5,000 Turkish lira. The court said that he was charged with “contempt of a foreign country’s president” — a reference to Turkey — whereby he criticized Turkish policy in Syria in online posts.
Sayeh was born in al-Bab in 1970, and was arrested by the Hamza Division, while visiting his relatives in April, because of a post he wrote on Facebook. Sayeh became known after he lost 22 family members, including of his seven children and his wife, during a single airstrike carried out by Bashar al-Assad’s regime forces on the al-Qasour district in Idleb.
The ruling against Sayeh sparked widespread criticism on social media against the Hamza Division, which is one of the groups in the Euphrates Shield, under the authority of Turkish forces. Opponents of the decision compared the behaviour to that of Assad’s forces.
Syrian lawyer Ghazwan Qaranfil commented on the court’s decision, saying: “The Syrian judicial circus in liberated areas, after the farce of the arrest warrant issued against Putin, stands you in front of a clown of a judge, Ahmed Naimi, who judges people for opinions shared on social media! It would be very natural for the revolution to purge its ranks of such filth.”
On Thursday, the Lebanese Al-Modon newspaper quoted a source close to Sayeh as saying that Sayeh became aware of the ruling during the Eid al-Adha holiday and would directly ask for an appeal at the al-Bab court. Most likely, his case will be transferred to the Azaz court, where his appeal will be followed up.
The source said that Sayeh had been released on bail two months ago after he had been imprisoned for more than 45 days, part of which was spent in the Hamza Division jail, and the rest in the police and general security forces prison in al-Bab after he was officially handed over by the Hamza Division. During this period, Sayed was able to appoint a lawyer to defend himself before the court.
This article was translated and edited by The Syrian Observer. Responsibility for the information and views set out in this article lies entirely with the author.