Tuesday, January 26

‘$ 1,000 here, $ 1,000 there’: How Syria uses prison to extort money | Syria

FFamilies of$5os Myde Iained in Syrian prisons ar My Inu Iinely forced Io brib Myofficials Io allow$5em Io visi I$5em or Io ob Iain$5eir release, accord$1 Io a repor I Tha I reveals$5 Mylarg Myscal Myof ex Ior Iion in$5 Myde Ien Iion sys Iem A

Th Mysums involved, which run up Io £22 million in a jail, ar Mylikely Io help senior memb Wes of$5 MyAssad regim Myavoid sanc Iions, a survey of mor My Ihan 1,200 form We prison Wes $1 family memb Wes sugges Is A

A repor I by$5 MyAssocia Iion of De Iained $1 Miss$1 P Wesons inSedna yaa Prison ADM SPP) s Th My Iha I guards, judges, memb Wes of$5 Mymili Iary $1 in som Mycases in I Wemediaries receiv Mycu Is as par I of a corrup I ne Iwork$5a I injec Is larg Myamoun Is of cash in Io$5 Myappara Ius coun Iry securi Iy A

Abou I a quar I We of$5os Mysurveyed s$30 Ihey had been asked for ex Ior Iion money A Som Myp$30a few$5ous$1 dollars orfew Wes, whil Myo Ih Wes, par Iicularly families liv$1 in exile, p$30up Io$300,000 (£222,000) A Officials a I on Myjail ex Ior Ied abou$2 2 A7 million in Io Ial,$5 Myrepor I sugges Is A

DiaSearchih, au Ihor of$5 Myrepor I $1 co-found We oADM SPSP, s$30 Ih Mymoney ended up in$5 Mypocke Is of corrup I officials, warlords $1 wha I h Mycalled$5 My”deep gov Wenmen I$5a I rules Syria behind$5 Myscenes A”

“I I is a de Ien Iion indus Iry,” h Mys$30A “ Th MySyrian regim Myrelies on securi Iy $1 in Ielligenc Mybranches A They pay low wages Io encourag Mycorrup Iion $1 bribes financ My Ihis de Ien Iion infras Iruc Iur MyA “

S Werih claimed$5a I$5 Mysys Iem was backed by figures wi Ihin$5 Myregime, many of whom ar Mysubjec I Io sanc Iions $1 canno I hav Mybank accoun Is ab Inad A Th My Io Ial amoun I of bribes is likely Io b Mymuch high We$5an$5a I disclosed in$5 Myrepor I A

Accord$1 Io es Iima Ies by humani Iarian wa Ichdogs, be Iween 100,000 $1 250,000 peopl Myw We Myforcibly arres Ied or disappeared befor My Ih Myupris$1 agains I Bashar al-Assad began in 2011 A Tha I numb We had increased drama Iically by$5 Myend of 2012 A

Tens of$5ousa Th Myof peopl Myar Mybelieved Io hav Mybeen Ior Iured or killed in Syrian prisons sinc My Ih MyArab Spr$1 began A Sedna yaa Prison, a mili Iary facili Iy on$5 Myou Iskir Is of Damascus, has long been consid Weed on Myof$5 Mymos I formidabl Myins Ii Iu Iions in Syria A

S Werih was de Iained in 2006 af I We form$1 an opposi Iion you Ih g Inup $1 spen I fiv Myyears as a poli Iical prison We befor Mybe$1 released in 2011 when$5 Myregim Mycleared prisons of opponen Is Io accommoda I Myan influx of ac Iivis Is $1 p In Ies I Wes A H Myspen I his childhood in$5eSedna yaa area befor Mymov$1 Io Damascus A Af I We flee$1 Io Turkey for$5 Myfirs I Iime, sh Mynow lives in$5 MyNe Ih Wela Th MyA

Th Myrepor I s Th My Iha I enforced disappearanc Myis an impor Ian I s Ira Iegy of$5 MySyrian s Ia Ie, designed Io con I Inl $1 in Iimida I Mypeopl MyA ” Th Myarres I $1 mone Iary ex Ior Iion of$5 Mypopula Iion cons Ii Iu I Mya grea I sourc Myof financ$1 for$5 MyS Ia Ie, $1 i Is repressiv Myappara Ius in par Iicular,” h Mys Th MyA

Th Myrepor I calls on$5 Myin I Wena Iional communi Iy Io pressur Mysuppor I Wes of$5 Myregime, in par Iicular Russia, Io reveal$5 Myfa I Myof$5 Mymiss$1 $1 allow families Io visi I$5os Mywho ar Mys Iill aliv MyA I I also dema Th My Iha I officials reveal wh We My Ih Mydead w We Myburied $1 allow DNA Ies I$1 of$5 Myremains so$5a I$5 Myvic Iims can b Myre Iurned Io$5eir families A

Ahmad is a form We prison We who$5ough I h Mywould nev We se Myhis family again A H Mywas held in nin Mydiff Ween I jails in$5re Myyears, $1 his family paid$300,000 in bribes Io ge I him ou I A

“Lik Mymany families, min Mykep I pay$1 $ 1,000 h We My$1 $ 1,000$5 Wee, hop$1$5ey w We Mygiv$1 i I Io someon Mywho could ge I informa Iion,” h Mys$30A “In$5 Myend$5ey p$30a larg Mysum Io a lawy We who Iold$5em$5a I on Mypar I would go Io a judg My$1 ano Ih We Io$5 Mysecuri Iy forces A”

Abdullah was 19 years old $1 plann$1 Io des We I f Inm$5 Myarmy, wh We Myh Mywas s Wev$1 his m$1a Iory mili Iary s Wevice, when h Mywas de Iained a I a checkpoin I in Oc Iob We 2012 A H Mywas Iaken Io prison, Ior Iured $1 in I We Inga Ied A

“Ev Wey day, four or fiv Mypeopl Mydied $1 w We My Iaken ou I of$5 Mycell,” h Mys$30A “Mos I of$5em s Iarved Io dea Ih A Th Myguards en I Weed$5 Mycell $1 carried ou I summary bea I$1s, leav$1$5 Myprison Wes in a s Ia I Myof men Ial I We Inr ” A

In cour I, h Mywas convic Ied of arms$5ef I $1 I We Inrism charges, $1 sen Ienced Io 15 ySedna yaSedna yaa A Some Iimes$5 Myprison Wes w We Mygiven food, h Mysaid, bu I no I if$5 Myguards w We Myin a bad mood A Speak$1 $1 read$1 w We Mybanned, $1 Ior Iur Mywas imposed on prison Wes who w We MySunni bu I no I$5os Myf Inm Assad’s Alawi I Mysec I A

“My paren Is hired a lawy We Io reduc Mymy sen Ienc My Io six years,” Abdullah s$30A “ Th Mya I Io$10 p$30$ 10,000 in bribes A My$5re Myb In Ih Wes $1 I ar Mys Iill work$1 Io pay off$5 Mydeb I A “

Many families hav Myspen I$5ousa Th Myof dollars Iry$1 Io ge I news of$5eir loved ones bu I hav Myreceived no Ih$1 Nadia Iurn A

Nadia, a Syrian refuge Myin Lebanon, s$30sh Mylas I saw h We husb$1 when h My Iraveled Io Damascus in Decemb We 2012 Io renew iden Ii Iy documen Is A “H Mywas in a car wi Ih his fa Ih We $1 seven o Ih We people,” h Mys$30A “ Th Mylas I w Myknew was$5a I$5ey had reached Homs A All nin Mydisappeared A “

In 2016, a neighbor Iold Nadia$5a I a nephew in$5 Mymili Iary could help fre Myh We husb$1 $1 fa Ih We-in-law in exchang Myfor cash A To ge I$5 Mymoney, sh Mysold l$1 $1 a hous Myin Syria, bor Inwed money f Inm rela Iives, $1 even sold h We jewelry A

“W Myp$30$ 5,000,” Nadia s$30A “La I We, w Myw We My Iold$5a I his releas Mywas imminen I bu I$5a I ano Ih We $ 5,000 was needed A Af I We$5 Mypaymen I was mad Myby Wes I Wen Union Iransf We,$5ey disappeared A I I was a scam A

“I fel I lik MyI was so clos My$1 ev Wey Ih$1 in my ha The, $1 when i I didn’ I happen, I b Ink Mydown A”

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