Muhammad Bakr Radwan: an Egyptian activist detained in Syria

This is a guest blog entry by Alba, a nickname for a Syrian activist who prefers to remain anonymous.

Updated: A week after he had been detained in downtown Damascus, Muhammad Radwan was released. He arrived in Cairo on Saturday April 2.

On March 26 Egyptian engineer Muhammad Bakr Radwan was detained in Damascus, Syria, following Friday’s demonstrations in the country. He has been accused of espionage. This is his latest tweet:

@battutta last tweet

Radwan is an Egyptian-American citizen who has been very active in the mobilizations in Egypt, joining demonstrators in Tahrir during the days after #Jan25 and broadcasting news about Syria and the Arab uprisings from his Twitter and Facebook account.

Both his participation in mobilizations in Egypt and the fact that he has American citizenship have been highlighted by Syrian news agency Sanaa, along with the accusation of espionage:

Egyptian with American nationality confesses to receiving money in exchange for sending photos and videos from Syria. The Syrian Television broadcast on Saturday preliminary confessions of non-Syrians of various nationalities who were arrested during the events taking place in a number of Syrian cities.

The article refers to him as “The Egyptian” (six times in a nine paragraph article), in what seems as an attempt to associate Syrian mobilizations against Bashar Al-Assad and the Baath, the party that has ruled the country with iron fist for 48 years, with foreign agents. The claim that revolution is “non-Syrian” is not new. Libyan president, Muammar al-Gaddafi, has also accused Western agents of organizing and promoting demonstrations, in an attempt to diminish the uprisings as something “non-Libyan”, or “non-Arab”.

Radwan is also accused of collaborating with Israeli intelligence, based on an interview (in Arabic) where he explains that he has traveled there to visit friends at the West Bank:

According to his cousin, Egyptian engineer Tarek Shalaby, “Radwan is a frequent traveler who has backpacked through many different countries and therefore carries a passport with many visa stamps.” Egyptian archeologist Nora Shalaby, Radwan´s cousin, and Tarek Shalaby are organizing the Free Radwan campaign to ask for his release. They joined a silent stand at the Syrian embassy in Egypt on Wednesday, March 30.

In front of the Syrian embassy in Cairo – Photo by tarekshalaby

Shalaby also adds:

The Arab dictators fail to learn from each other’s mistakes and are resorting to old-fashioned techniques in an attempt to shoot down our revolutionary spirit. Little does Bashar el Asad know that he has only made it worse for himself, and together we will be victorious and liberate ourselves from corruption and brutality.

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