In a letter released today, Human Rights Watch asked Secretary of State Madeleine Albright to raise two pressing human rights cases in her upcoming meetings with the leaders of Morocco and Syria.

"There are urgent humanitarian grounds for the Secretary to intervene in these cases, and her effort can make a tangible difference," said Hanny Megally, executive director of the organization's Middle East and North Africa division. "These individuals are being inhumanely punished solely for their political views."

One case involves Moroccan dissident Abraham Serfaty, 74, who was imprisoned for fourteen years and tortured before being forcibly exiled in 1991. The government has not responded to his 1994 application for a passport to return, and in May 1999 turned his wife away at the airport.

Human Rights Watch asked Albright to request Syrian President Hafiz al-Asad to release Nizar Nayouf, a human rights activist in prison since 1992, who has been crippled by torture and is reportedly suffering from lymphatic cancer. Syrian authorities have refused to provide him with a wheelchair, forcing him to move about his solitary cell by crawling, and have not allowed him to receive an independent medical evaluation unless he renounces his political beliefs and confesses to making "false accusations" concerning Syria's human rights situation.

For Further Information, Contact:
Joe Stork (Washington), 202 612 4327
Hanny Megally (New York), 212 216 1230
Carroll Bogert (New York), 212 216 1244