Group: Syrian agents threatening opposition members living abroad

Friday, November 26, 2004

Syrian opposition sources said agents of President Bashar Assad have been sending threats to opponents in Europe and the United States.

They said the messages include e-mails that threatened to kill the children and relatives of opposition members.

"The Syrian Ba'ath party secret agents are on the prowl against Syrian opposition outside Syria," the Washington-based Reform Party of Syria said.

"In what seems to be a deliberate policy, RPS members are getting threatening e-mails from Syrian agents. The e-mails are threatening to kill them, their children, and members of their immediate families."

[On Nov. 19, about 3,000 Lebanese protested against the Syrian military presence in their country, Middle East Newsline reported. The demonstration in Beirut ended without incident.]

On Nov. 6, Germany arrested a Syrian embassy staffer and charged him with espionage and issuing threats against the Syrian opposition in Europe.

The staffer was said to be one of scores of Syrian nationals who work for the Assad regime and ordered to locate and intimidate opposition members.

Several sources have suggested that the threatening e-mails sent to opposition members in the United States stemmed from the Syrian embassy in Washington. In July 2004, Syrian ambassador Imad Mustapha was quoted as saying that the regime was monitoring the movements of Reform Party president Farid Ghadry. The party filed a complaint with Attorney General John Ashcroft.

Syrian opposition activists plan to lobby Congress to implement additional elements of the Syria Accountability Act, including one that would prevent Syrian diplomats from traveling more than 40 miles from their diplomatic mission. So far, President George Bush has refused to activate that sanction.

Copyright 2004 East West Services, Inc.

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