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Syria: Egyptian-American Tweep Accused of Spying

This post is part of our special coverage Syria Protests 2011.

UPDATE: Muhammed Radwan was released on April 1. Here's his interview with Democracy Now! after his release.

Egyptian-American Twitter user Muhammed Radwan (@battuta) was arrested in Syria and paraded on Syrian Television as a spy who is accused of allegedly visiting “Israel in secret and confessed to receiving money from abroad in exchange for sending photos and videos about Syria.”

According to the Syrian Arab News Agency (SANA) Radwan is accused of receiving “emails from abroad inquiring about the possibility of sending photos and videos about Syria.”

It adds:

“He received an email asking if he was prepared to assist a Spanish-speaking person from Columbia who communicated with him via email in preparation for a meeting and sending photos and videos.

He said that he was selected because he lived in Syria and carries a camera-equipped mobile phone and can benefit from this opportunity.”

Radwan is an engineer, working with a private firm. His arrest and accusation have sparked a flurry of reactions from netizens across the region, with many predicting that Syria's arrest of an Egyptian tweep would turn the entire Egyptian cybersphere against the Assad regime.

Here are some reactions to Radwan's arrest from Twitter:

@deena_adel: Egyptian activist @battutta was arrested in #Syria on claims that he is a spy. NOT TRUE. Media attention is needed. Plz spread the word.

@3arabawy: The Syrian regime has arrested my friend @battutta and is accusing him of being a spy! http://bit.ly/gkNikY What a load of horseshit!

@weddady: #Syria TV showing an Egyptian with US citizenship, says he's visited israel secretly, and was asked to provide videos and pix

@weddady: Oh it gets better, said Egyptian-American was asked via a colombian to provide pix & videos via internet. sounds like a Hugho chavez idea

@cairowire: syria arrests egyptian american for espionage (essentially due to owning a camera-phone): http://is.gd/IAXtel #mar15 (via @SheriefFarouk)

@norashalaby: My cousin @battutta's last tweet was yesterday morning when he was at the Umayyed mosque and wrote something about the clashes!

@norashalaby: His phone has been off since yesterday and friends went to his place, but no one is there @battutta #syria

@weddady: Tactical mistake by #syria regime: by arresting @Battutta they've effectively rallied the egyptian cyber community against em.. #Egypt

@SultanAlQassemi: Not just the Egyptians. MT @weddady (Syria) by arresting @Battutta effectively rallied the egyptian cyber community against em..

It is understood that the Egyptian Embassy in Damascus has been informed about his arrest.

Also on Twitter, a #FreeRadwan hashtag is gathering support.

This post is part of our special coverage Syria Protests 2011.

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