Swedish Correspondent Deported from Syria
Swedish Radio's correspondent in the Middle East, Cecilia Uddén, has been forced to leave Syria.
Syrian authorities have demanded that she leave the country.
- We’re protesting the decision and the treatment of our foreign correspondent, says Swedish Radio CEO Cilla Benkö in a statement.
She emphasizes that Swedish Radio will continue to report on the conflict in Syria and that the Swedish Radio will seek permission anew to be allowed to report from inside the country.
– I don’t know exactly what I have done. They have told me that I have quoted bloggers and tweets from eastern Aleppo, which is what most journalists and world media are doing, since no reporters or journalists have had access to that part of Aleppo during the siege, says Cecilia Uddén.
– Freedom of the press is an important part of democracies throughout the world. We need journalists on location that can report on large conflicts. Cecilia Uddén has given both parties in the conflict opportunities to be heard and has been telling both sides of the story, says Cilla Benkö.
The Swedish Radio deputy foreign editor, Anders Pontara, also reacts strongly to the Syrian authorities' actions.
– This shows the importance of conducting independent journalism. It also shows how threatening such journalism can be in the eyes of those in power, says Anders Pontara.
Cecilia Uddén is now in Lebanon. On Wednesday 14th of December the Swedish Radio management learned that she was no longer desirable in Syria.
She has had to stay put at her hotel in Aleppo and was then forced to leave the country.
– I have heard the authorities claim that I am “a typical hotel journalist”, only reporting from inside my hotel room, without ever setting foot outside to check what’s going on. My objection has been that I have never done anything but reporting what I see. Every news media wants to gain access to the centre of the conflict but we have been prevented from doing so, says Cecilia Uddén.
Cecilia Uddén has been reporting from Damascus and Aleppo during the last couple of days. According to the Syrian authorities, the reason for her deportation is “spreading false information”.
– We have not been told exactly what in Cecilia Uddén’s news pieces that has angered the authorities, says Anders Pontara.
He confirms that Swedish Radio has made a formal complaint to the Syrian Information Ministry.
Now that Cecilia Uddén has left Syria, the Swedish Radio has no staff on hand to report on the conflict.
– I hope that we will soon be able to return to Syria and bear witness on what we see with our own eyes. It is extremely important that we have independent journalists on location in Syria to tell what is going on with this terrible conflict, says Anders Pontara.
– I am angry, disappointed and extremely frustrated with not having been able to report from Aleppo, and not having met any of the internal refugees. I know that many of them have stories of the rebels making threats, forcing them to stay behind as human shields. Others are telling of threats from the government side, says Cecilia Uddén.