( dpa )- The United States on Tuesday condemned the arrest of Syrian political activist Riad Seif , saying the detention shows the Syrian government continues to deny citizens the right to speak freely.
"His arrest and detention ... are yet another example of the Syrian regime's contempt for the universally-recognized right of free expression of ideas, and its blatant attempts to silence and intimidate the Syrian people," State Department deputy spokesman Tom Casey said.
The Damascus-based Syrian Human Rights Committee (SHRC) confirmed Saif's arrest on Tuesday as part of a widespread crackdown on dissidents dedicated to promoting human rights in the country.
The United States expects Syria to "cease its harassment of Syrians who are peacefully seeking to bring about democratic and political reform in their country," Casey said.
Saif , a former member of parliament, was taken from his home late Monday to an unknown location. Since December, at least nine human rights activists have been arrested, while scores others were called in for questioning.
Saif has prostate cancer and has been banned from travelling abroad to seek treatment. He has appealed to human rights groups to help lift the travel ban.