Druze resident of the Golan Heights released from jail in Syria after 13 years

A Druze resident of Majdal Shams, a town in the Golan Heights, was released from jail in Syria on Monday after 13 years’ imprisonment, Israeli media reported.

Burjus Awidat, 47, disappeared in 2003 after going to study dentistry in Damascus. He was arrested immediately on his arrival in Syria, and it wasn’t until 2011 that Awidat’s family discovered he had been jailed on suspicion of spying for Israel.

Awidat is currently in Sweida, a mainly Druze town in southwest Syria, and is expected to return to Israel in the next few days.

“Burjus was arrested in his student dormitories in Damascus by the secret police, and still does not understand why he was arrested, even though he was charged with spying,” said Hail al-Safadi, a relative.

 

“We lost all contact with him and it wasn’t until a senior Israeli official got involved that we discovered where he was,” al-Safadi continued.

“The same official dealt with Burjus’ arrest for many years and on two occasions was able to arrange for his mother to visit him in Syria.”

According to al-Safadi, the current events in Syria, the situation in its prisons and the pressure by members of Awidat’s family and Israeli officials led to the Syrian regime’s recent decision to release him. It was also, he believes, a way for the Syrian government to reduce the amount of pressure on it from the Druze community.