Syrian President Bashar Assad
Photo: AP

Top Syrian TV reporter defects

Ghatan Sleiba, from pro-Assad al-Dunya TV channel, says he's been providing intelligence to rebels for over six months

A well-known Syrian television presenter used his position to help the rebels fighting Syrian President Bashar Assad, the Guardian reported on Tuesday.


Ghatan Sleiba, 33, from the pro-Assad al-Dunya TV channel, has defected to the opposition and has admitted that he has been to providing intelligence to the rebels for over six months.


Sleiba, who was a reported for the state-owned al-Akhbariya network and the al-Dunya channel, is the first high-profile defector from Damascus's powerful propaganda mechanism, the Guardian said.



"I am the first and I will probably be the last," he told the British newspaper from his hiding place in southern Turkey. "There are some others who also want to run, but there are more who love the regime from the depths of their hearts."


Sleiba said that rebel forces were in fact in control of much of the country's east: "This is one of the things they never wanted us to talk about. What we were doing was not reporting. It was simply acting as the tongue of the regime. I stayed as long as I could to help the revolutionaries, but I couldn't take it any more," he told the newspaper.


Sleiba said that on the regime's ordered, he would instruct interviewees how to answers questions in a way that would please the regime.


"Those answers and the subjects of things to talk about were given to us by the head of the Ba'ath party in the area, or by the political security division," he said.


Al-Dunya TV propagated Damascus' "party line," stating that the uprising-linked events were carried out by "terrorists."


"Many of us knew then it wasn't terrorists they were fighting. It was people wanting their rights. But it was very difficult to do anything about it. We have families and we need to protect them," Sleiba said.


According to the report, he made contact with the Free Syria Army in November. "They told me that I was more use to them if I stayed in my job. And so from then on we talked on Skype and I told them what I could about regime and military movements," he said.


Sleiba said he is now looking for a job with an opposition TV channel, something he knows will be difficult.


"When I got here, I met a guy from al-Jazeera and he said I was a government spy with a psychological problem. But people will soon learn that the truth is a powerful thing and that is why I am here."




פרסום ראשון: 07.03.12, 13:45
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