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IdentifierCreatedClassificationOrigin
05PARIS7922 2005-11-21 16:38:00 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Paris
Cable title:  

GOF DECLINES TO MAKE PUBLIC APPEAL OR PRESSURE

Tags:   PREL PHUM PGOV SY LE FR 
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This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
					  C O N F I D E N T I A L PARIS 007922 

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 11/21/2015
TAGS: PREL PHUM PGOV SY LE FR
SUBJECT: GOF DECLINES TO MAKE PUBLIC APPEAL OR PRESSURE
SARG ON KAMAL LABOWANI CASE

REF: A. STATE 210390 (NOTAL)


B. EMAILS ZEYA-SONTY 11/16/2005 AND 11/18/2005

Classified By: Political Minister-Counselor Josiah Rosenblatt, reasons
1.4 (b) and (d).



1. (C) Summary: MFA contacts report the GoF is disinclined to
make a public appeal or demarche the SARG on the arrest of
Syrian democracy activist Kamal Labowani, citing questions
about Labowani's character and describing the Mehlis
investigation as a more pressing priority. Elysee contacts
were similarly discouraging, suggesting the GoF would comment
on Labowani's case only if asked by the press. End summary.



2. (C) Late November 18, Poloff discussed reftel talking
points on the arrest of Syrian democracy activist Kamal
Labowani with MFA DAS-equivalent for Egypt/Levant Herve
Besancenot, who described the GoF as unlikely to raise the
case publicly or approach the SARG. Besancenot said the MFA
had been prepared to comment on Labowani's arrest, but
"unfortunately" no journalists had brought it up at the daily
MFA press briefing, so the time to comment on it had passed.
More negatively, he said the MFA would like to know more
about Labowani, as his quality as an individual was unclear;
for the GoF to make a public appeal, it would have to make
sure that the individual was "incontestable" and a "person of
quality" -- which Besancenot was not totally convinced of, in
Labowani's case. Besancenot recalled the arrest earlier this
year of Egyptian oppositionist Ayman Nour, noting that the
GoF had declined to call publicly for Nour's release, based
on serious questions about Nour's character. Poloff
suggested that Besancenot should focus on the actions of the
Syrian government and the need for the Syrian people to enjoy
the full range of fundamental freedoms of expression and
association, without fear of arrest or imprisonment. Poloff
also stressed the need to appeal for release of all political
prisoners held by the SARG, including those jailed after the
"Damascus Spring."



3. (C) Besancenot summed up that although the human rights
situation in Syria remained problematic, the GoF did not see
the need to make an issue out of Labowani's arrest,
particularly in the current, tense political environment.
There were other, more immediate priorities for the GoF, such
as the Mehlis investigation. That said, Besancenot conceded
it was understandable why the U.S. had made this a priority
issue, since Labowani was arrested immediately after seeing
U.S. officials in Washington. Besancenot suggested that
perhaps our embassy in Damascus should discuss the issue
further with French counterparts in Damascus. He opined that
the GoF would reassess its approach on Labowani only if urged
to do so by its embassy in Damascus, which had not
recommended a public appeal or demarche to the SARG. In an
earlier, separate conversation with poloff, Elysee Middle
East advisor Dominique Boche suggested the GoF would comment
on Labowani's case only if asked by the press.



4. (C) Comment: The GoF approach on Labowani is consistent
with general GoF reluctance to press human rights cases
publicly, even in the case of a near-pariah government like
Damascus, and reaffirms that the GoF's overriding priority
with respect to Syria is Lebanon, first and last. End
comment.

Please visit Paris' Classified Website at:
http://www.state.sgov.gov/p/eur/paris/index.c fm

Stapleton