The Wall Street Journal has an exclusive report (subscription) today that sheds light on just how far the reach of Syria's police state extends: Talking to U.S. officials and Syrian expatriates in the U.S., the paper found that the regime of President Bashar Assad is tracking and intimidating dissidents living abroad.
The Journal reports:
Syrian embassy staffers are tracking and photographing antiregime protesters and sending reports back home, Syrian activists and U.S. officials say. Syrian diplomats, including the ambassador to the U.S., have fanned out to Arab diaspora communities to brand dissidents "traitors" and warn them against conspiring with "Zionists."
A half-dozen Syrian-Americans interviewed by The Wall Street Journal in recent weeks say that as a result of their activities in the U.S., family members have been interrogated, threatened or arrested in Syria. The Obama administration says it has "credible" evidence that the Assad regime is targeting relatives of Syrian-Americans who have participated in peaceful U.S. protests.
In an interview Tuesday, Imad Moustapha, the Syrian ambassador, dismissed the allegations by Syrian dissidents and U.S. officials as "slander and sheer lies."
The whole piece is worth a read, so I encourage you to click over. It really explores how Assad's regime differs from the other authoritarian regimes in the country. And also provides some helpful history on the Assad family, which has controlled Syria for 40 years.