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Syrian artist released by authorities

Youssef Abdelke was held for more than two months by forces loyal to the Syrian president

Youssef Abdelke

A leading Syrian artist has been released after being held by the Syrian authorities for more than two months. Youssef Abdelke was arrested on 18 July, along with two colleagues, by forces loyal to the Syrian president, Bashar al-Assad, at a checkpoint in Tartous, a southern port city.

Abdelke posted a statement on his FaceBook page late August, saying that he “is healthy and in anticipation of leaving the palace of justice, free as [he] has always been”. The artist’s wife, Ala Yakoub, launched an online appeal in a bid to gain the release of her husband.

The 62-year-old artist has condemned Assad’s regime and recently signed a petition initiated by Syrian artists calling for the removal of the president, according to the news website France 24. A former member of the Syrian communist party, Abdelke was jailed from 1978 to 1980. He moved to Paris after his release, returning to Syria in 2005. The civil war in Syria began in late 2011.

A painter of still-lifes, Abdelke participated in the 2011 Sharjah Biennial as well as the eighth Cairo Biennial in 2001. London's British Museum holds important works by the artist in its collection.

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