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Four Publications Temporarily Banned

The Syrian ministry of information banned the distribution of four publications during the last week of August, said the Syrian Centre for Media and Freedom of Expression in a September 1 statement published on its website.

Two editions of as-Safir and one of al-Akhbar, both Lebanese newspapers, were prevented from being distributed in Syria, the statement said.

Authorities also banned the sale of an issue of the weekly newspaper al-Khabar, it added.

The organisation said that the bans resulted from a decision made by the information minister, Mohsen Bilal, and transmitted orally without any explanation to the public Institution for the Distribution of Print.

The organisation accused the information ministry of violating Syrian laws, adding that the decision would harm Syria’s reputation inside and outside the country and violated citizens’ right to access information freely.

The website all4Syria reported on September 5 that the international media watchdog group Reporters Without Borders, along with 14 other international organisations, were planning to give a "medal of shame" to the Syrian minister of information this year for taking arbitrary measures against journalists, writers, newspapers and magazines.

The website said that all newspapers had suffered in one way or another from decisions made by Bilal.

If the minister receives it, he would be the first Arab official to get the medal of shame, it said.

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