Syria protests

Anti-government protestors gather in the Syrian capital of Damascus earlier this year

Credit: Syriana2011 on Flickr. Some rights reserved

A Syrian cameraman who was arrested on Saturday while filming anti-government protests has been found dead with his eyes gouged out, according to the New York-based charity the Committee to Protect Journalists.

Citing local news reports, the CPJ says Ferzat Jarban was arrested by government authorities while covering the protests and local residents found his "severely mutilated" body the next morning on the main road of the town.

The UN estimates that around 3,500 people have been killed in Syria during brutal crackdowns on anti-regime protests.

Jarban was a freelance cameraman working in the central city of Homs and filming the protests for several Arabic news organisations, a London-based newspaper, Al-Sharq al-Aswat, reports.

According to the CPJ, Jarban is the first journalist to be killed in Syria since it started documenting journalist fatalities in 1992.

"The brutal murder of Ferzat Jarban illustrates the lengths to which the Syrian government will go in its efforts to suppress independent reporting," said Mohamed Abdel Dayem, CPJ's Middle East and North Africa program coordinator.

"We demand the release of all journalists who remain in custody and hold the government accountable for their well-being."

The charity has been monitoring the treatment of journalists in the country over the past few months, and reports that "many have disappeared without further news of their alleged crimes, whereabouts, or condition".

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