The United States is deeply concerned by the reported arrest by Syrian authorities of prominent Syrian dissident Louay Hussein. Mr. Hussein was allegedly travelling to visit his family in Spain, when he was detained near the Syrian-Lebanese border on November 12.
Mr. Hussein has long been a critic of the Assad family, which has ruled Syria for four decades. Under the tenure of Hafez al-Assad, the current leader’s father, Mr. Hussein spent seven years in prison. In 2011 he was again detained by authorities after expressing sympathy for peaceful anti-government protesters in the city of Daraa, who were violently attacked by the forces of Bashar al-Assad – a response by the Syrian president that ignited the conflict that has now resulted in the deaths of nearly 200,000 Syrians and the displacement of millions more.
Louay Hussein is the cofounder of a movement called Building the Syrian State and has called for a coalition government to replace Bashar al Assad. There are reports that a court judge has accused him of “weakening national sentiment” and “weakening the nation’s mood.”
The arrest of Mr. Hussein, who, like the Assad family itself, is a member of the Alawite sect, undercuts the Syrian regime’s narrative that its opponents are all terrorists – mostly made up of Sunni extremists. His incarceration shows that anyone who opposes the Assad regime’s atrocities, regardless of religion or ethnic background, is vulnerable to arrest and detention in one of the Syrian regime’s notorious prisons.
Tens of thousands of Syrians continue to be imprisoned by the government from all walks of life – doctors, journalists, children, women, human rights defenders -- and many have been subjected to torture, sexual violence and starvation.
The United States calls on all parties in the Syrian conflict to release all arbitrarily detained persons and political prisoners. In particular, the U.S. urges the government of Bashar al Assad to immediately release Louay Hussein and the thousands of Syrians held in its horrific detention centers. The U.S. also urges the Assad regime to allow immediate, unfettered access by international monitors to all detention facilities.
The Assad regime has brought untold suffering to the people of Syria. The United States continues to work for a political solution that alleviates that suffering and lays the foundation for a government without Bashar al Assad which is responsive to the will and aspirations of the Syrian people.