Syrian envoy: TV resignation was hoax

Syria's ambassador to France denied on Wednesday she was resigning in protest at her government's crackdown on dissent, saying a broadcast of the announcement by a woman claiming to be her was a hoax.

Lamia Shakkur appeared on France’s BFM television to set the record straight after another channel, France 24, broadcast a telephone interview with a woman posing as her who said she was quitting in protest at the “cycle of violence”.

“I accuse France 24 of identity fraud,” Shakkur said, appearing on BFM on Wednesday in the Syrian embassy in Paris, in front of a Syrian flag and a portrait of its President Bashar al-Assad.

“I will bring a complaint to convict France 24 for these acts of misinformation, which are part of a campaign of false information against Syria since March 2011,” she added.

The woman who spoke on France 24 on Tuesday said she had offered her resignation to Assad because “I cannot support the cycle of violence.”

“I recognise the legitimacy of the people’s demands for more democracy and freedom,” she added.

France 24 raised the alert over a suspected hoax hours after broadcasting the comments.

“We do not rule out a manipulation or a provocation,” it said in a statement. “If that is the case, we will sue any persons, organisations or official agencies that may be behind it.”

More than 1,100 civilians, including dozens of children, have been killed in a security crackdown against anti-government protests that erupted in Syria in March.

Britain and France are to submit a resolution at the United Nations Security Council later Wednesday condemning the “repression” in Syria, British Prime Minister David Cameron said.

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France slams Belarus’ ‘arbitrary’ crackdown on foreign media

France on Sunday condemned an "arbitrary" crackdown against the media in Belarus after the accreditation of several journalists working for foreign media was withdrawn in the wake of disputed presidential elections.

France slams Belarus' 'arbitrary' crackdown on foreign media
Belarus opposition supporters protesting against disputed presidential elections results in Minsk on August 27. Photo: Sergei Gapon/AFP
“The arbitrary measures taken by the Belarusian authorities against journalists violate press freedom,” Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said in a statement.
“I call on the Belarusian authorities to reverse these measures without delay,” he added, saying that the crisis in Belarus requires “the establishment of an inclusive national dialogue”.
“Repressive measures against journalists cannot help,” he said.
Belarusian authorities on Saturday withdrew the accreditation of journalists working for several foreign media, including AFP, ahead of a major demonstration Sunday challenging the results of the presidential election.
Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko, who has been in power since 1994, has faced unprecedented protests since the disputed August 9 election in which he claimed a landslide victory with 80 percent of the vote in a poll
that the opposition says was rigged.
Belarus government spokesman Anatoly Glaz said the decision to revoke the media accreditations was taken on the recommendation of the country's counter-terrorism unit.
He did not specify how many journalists were affected by the measure, but foreign media including the BBC, Reuters and Radio Liberty reported the withdrawal of accreditation of several of their journalists.
Belarusian journalists working for Agence France-Presse also had their accreditation revoked.