Zaidoun Al Zoubi is a Syrian activist who has been reporting for CNN on the Syrian Revolution for more than a year. He was arrested by the Syrian secret police on December 15 for speaking out against the Assad regime. He was taken in a café by seven armed men and arrested with six others, including his brother. He was released on January 9, and shortly after spoke to CNN’s Anderson Cooper about his experience in captivity.
The revolution started in early 2011 with Syrians speaking out against the government and president Bashar Assad in demonstrations and protests. These civilians soon became known as rebels. Protests quickly turned violent as the Syrian Army responded to the uprising with open fire. Many rebel groups acquired weapons and the revolution intensified. Since its start in 2011, an estimated 60,000 people have died.
Zaidoun was one of many activists arrested since the uprising began. He was held in a facility in Damascus, the capital of Syria, which is known for torture and abuse. Zaidoun credits CNN’s campaigning for his freedom and for not being tortured while detained. However, he said he became very ill and lost between 35 and 40 pounds in the three weeks of his imprisonment. Zaidoun has heard horror stories of the prison and called it a “factory for madness and death.”
Zaidoun described the prison as a holding with more than 300,000 people inside, many there for essentially no reason, Zaidoun’s brother included. In the small room where he was held in, 91 people were sharing the same space, and there was little oxygen.
Zaidoun’s brother is still being held captive in Damascus. Cooper assured him that CNN will continue putting the spotlight on his arrest in hope of his release. The network’s commitment to Zaidoun’s story and campaigning for his freedom has proved the significance and importance of broadcast journalism, and the effect journalism generates.
Zaidoun is aware of the risk of being arrested again, especially because he uses his real name in his reports. Still, his focus remains on finding his brother and continuing his work.
He stated that he is “more committed” to people who are detained around the world. Even after being arrested, he is confident that people will unite and “come together” to “fight dictatorship.”
The interview can be heard on CNN’s website at: http://ac360.blogs.cnn.com/2013/01/10/syrian-activist-freed-from-captivity/?iref=allsearch