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Middle East

Prominent dissident detained by regime

Walid Al Bunni, spokesman for the National Coalition of Syrian revolution and opposition forces, gives a press conference on February 22, 2013 in Cairo. (AFP PHOTO/GIANLUIGI GUERCIA)

AMMAN: Syrian intelligence agents abducted Akram al-Bunni, a prominent leftist writer and former political prisoner, as he left a wedding reception at a central Damascus hotel Saturday, opposition activists said.

His brother Anwar al-Bunni, a human rights lawyer who was also a political prisoner for five years, said Akram had riled the authorities by publicly supporting a democratic alternative to the four-decade rule of the Assad family.

“This regime has not been satisfied that it stole 20 years of Akram’s life and the effect that left on his health,” Anwar told Reuters Sunday from Damascus.

“The regime is going around seeking local truces with armed groups while it arrests peaceful dissidents like Akram. Whom does it consider as its real enemy?” Anwar said, referring to recent cease-fires in and around Damascus.

The Christian Bunni family is well-known for its dogged opposition to the Assad family’s rule. Akram spent a total of 20 years in prison under the rule of Assad and his late father, Hafez, for his writings and political affiliations. The four Bunni brothers, one sister and two of their spouses, have spent 70 years among them as political prisoners.

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on February 24, 2014, on page 8.

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