France protecting Syrian opposition after 'threats'

AFP , Friday 2 Dec 2011

French gov't takes efforts to protect Syrian opposition figures based in France whose lives have been threatened by Al-Bashar's regime

France's interior minister said on Friday that authorities are providing protection to Syrian opposition members based in the country after they came under threat.

The minister, Claude Gueant, would not provide details of the security measures or the nature of the threats, but he said the measures affect members of the Syrian National Council (SNC).

"A certain number of threats have appeared concerning Syrian citizens, notably opposition figures, living in our country. Of course measures have been taken to ensure the protection of these Syrian citizens," Gueant said.

"We must protect all of those who are likely to be threatened," he said, especially those "who are called upon to play a role in Syria's democratic renewal," he told journalists.

"We know that the Syrian state is violent and does not hesitate to resort to threats," Gueant said.

The SNC's leader, Burhan Ghaliun, is based in Paris along with many leading members of the Syrian opposition.

SNC spokeswoman Basma Qoudmani told AFP: "Burhan Ghaliun has had bodyguards [provided by the French authorities] for three months. I have for the last six weeks."

Gueant said France is "extremely concerned by what is happening in Syria and considers the authorities' attitude toward their own people to be absolutely intolerable."

France "is working with the United States in all international forums to have Syria condemned and to obtain sanctions," Gueant said at a news conference with US Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano and US Attorney General Eric Holder after security talks in Paris.

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