UK Nationals Maryam Kallis and Yasser Zahur Ahmed Released in Syria (UA 90/09)

British nationals Maryam Kallis and Yasser Zahur Ahmed were released on June 7 and returned home to their families in the UK. They had been held without charge in a variety of undisclosed locations for almost three months without access to legal assistance or their families. Both were accused of involvement in terrorism. Maryam Kallis was arrested on March 15 by a group of eight or 10 men in civilian clothes while with her eight-year-old son in the Rukna al-Din area of the capital, Damascus. The men took Maryam Kallis and her son back to her sister’s apartment, where Maryam Kallis had been staying with her three children since March 5. The men confiscated her passport and those of her children before handcuffing her and taking her away. During her detention, Maryam Kallis was visited by a number of staff members of the British Consulate in Damascus. During a visit on April 23, she is said to have appeared frail and fatigued. According to the authorities detaining her, she was being treated daily by a doctor as an apparently routine measure. Yasser Ahmed was arrested on March 17 at the Abi Noor Language Institute in the Rukna al-Din area of Damascus, where he was in his second year studying Arabic. He had travelled to Syria with his wife and daughter in October 2006. On May 10, a British newspaper reported that Maryam Kallis and Yasser Ahmed were being held on suspicion of connections with a “terrorist organization” related to al-Qaeda. The Syrian authorities claimed that “Ms. Kallis is involved in receiving funds … and in conveying the funds to [al-Qaeda].” This was the first public statement by the Syrian authorities regarding their detention.