Siria, giornalisti “liberi” di muoversi? Non sembra…

Buthaina Shaaban, 24 marzo 2011“Avete piena libertà di movimento in Siria”, è stata l’assicurazione del presidente Bashar al Assad a Barbara Walters, intervistatrice della tv americana Abc News, che ai primi di dicembre si è recata con una sua troupe nel Paese.

Qui di seguito il racconto di Alexander Marquardt, corrispondente dell’Abc a Damasco, che in quei giorni ha voluto testare la buona fede del raìs recandosi a Dael, località nei pressi di Daraa, capoluogo della regione primo epicentro della rivolta e della repressione.

The road to Dara’a is as one might expect during this time of unrest: lined with police cars, army checkpoints and roadblocks of barrels and rocks painted with the Syrian flag. The plan was to visit Dael, a village that has lately been one of the more restive parts of Dara’a.

That would be impossible, Governor Mohammed Khalid al Hanous told us as we arrived in Dara’a for a courtesy call. For your own safety. Armed gangs were roaming around, they just killed two policemen, he said. There have been widespread reports of attacks by the rebel “Free Syrian Army” of army defectors on security forces around Dara’a.

Told of the president’s promise and offered a waiver of responsibility, he responded that “[Assad’s] the one who gives orders and we try our best to obey.”

“However, this is a security issue,” he continued. “Your safety first, period.”

What that meant became clear as we left the governor’s office. Not only would our team not be allowed to travel to Dael, but our car would be joined by eight others full of uniformed and plainclothes police, as well as Syrian state media, which filmed and photographed us all day.

Mr. Marquardt added that when he was finally able to arrange to interview the imam of the Omari mosque in Dara’a without government minders, “with us in the living room were two heavyset men in suits and ties who said they were family friends.” One of the men proceeded to record the interview on his cellphone, and even interrupted at one stage, instructing Mr. Marquardt to “Change the direction of the questioning.”

The Syrian state news agency’s subsequent report on ABC’s visit to Dara’a, Mr. Marquardt noted, made no mention of his complaints about government interference with his work.

A tal proposito, è bene riproporre l’estratto della conferenza stampa tenuta il 24 marzo scorso a Damasco da Buthayna Shaaban, consigliere presidenziale di al Asad, che accusa i media stranieri di “esagerare” e ricorda l’autorevolezza dei media ufficiali siriani.