Assad Revokes Citizenship of Politician Who Visited Knesset

Syrian Reform Party founder Farid Ghadry loses citizenship for visiting Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee in June.

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Syrian President Basher Assad revoked the citizenship of exiled Syrian opposition member Farid Ghadry of the Syrian Reform Party, the government-affiliated Syria News Website reported Saturday.

The official reason for the revocation of Ghadry's citizenship is his appearance before the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee in June. Ghadry visited at the invitation of committee chairman MK Tzachi Hanegbi.

"This demonstrates how Syrians striving for true peace with Israel are persecuted for their beliefs by a regime that claims it wants peace, but supports terror," Ghadry told Haaretz.

Citizenship revocation is a rare move that under certain circumstances can be viewed as a violation of international law. There are no other known incidents of recent citizenship revocation in Syria.

In 1962, Syria revoked the citizenship of 120,000 Kurds in a move to suppress Kurdish nationalism.

Ghadry left Syria with his family at the age of 10. He founded the Syrian Reform Party in the U.S. in the wake of the September 11 attacks. His opponents claim the he does not represent anyone, and that he is a "pretend" exiled Syrian leader.

No similar move was taken by Syria against Syrian-American businessman Ibrahim Suleiman, who also appeared before the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, despite reports that the Syrian government had warned him the he would be punished.

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