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Syria releases female blogger Razan Ghazzawi on bail

Syrian Centre for Media and Free Expression says Razan Ghazzawi, a Syrian-American blogger, was released from detention on bail of $300

AFP , Monday 19 Dec 2011
Razan Ghazzawi
Razan Ghazzawi speaks at a conference on youth journalism in Cairo in May.(Photo:Reuters)
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Syria has released Syrian-American blogger Razan Ghazzawi on bail two weeks after her arrest as she was heading to Jordan to attend a conference on press freedoms, a media rights group said on Monday.

"Razan Ghazzawi was released from detention at 10:30pm (2030 GMT) Sunday on bail of 15,000 Syrian pounds (around $300)," the Syrian Centre for Media and Free Expression said on its website.

Syrian authorities arrested Ghazzawi at the border with Jordan on 4 December as she headed to Amman to take part in a workshop on press freedom in the Arab world, activists said.

She was referred to court and charged on three counts of "establishing an organisation that aims to change the social and economic status of the state," weakening national sentiment, and stirring racial and religious dissent, according to the centre.

In its statement on Monday, the media centre urged the authorities to drop the charges against Ghazzawi and any court proceedings.

Ghazzawi, 31, works for the centre and, if tried and found guilty, could face three to 15 years in jail.

She has been blogging on her Razaniayat website since 2009 and has expressed strong criticism of the Syrian regime, which has faced unprecedented pro-democracy protests since mid-March.

The United Nations estimates that more than 5,000 people have been killed in the regime's crackdown.

Syria says it is battling "armed terrorist" groups.

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