Ahmad Fakhouri, known by many as one of the most famous news anchors on Syrian state TV, declared that he defected from the Syrian regime 9 months ago when he suddenly upped and left his job at the Syrian satellite channel.
In disguise, he lived in Damascus for six months until he was able to smuggle his wife, daughter, parents, his sister, and one of his two brothers through Beirut airport to Cairo, then followed them to Cairo where he lives now without work.
Fakhouri told Al Arabiya in a telephone interview this week that he succeeded so well in disguising himself that nobody but his own family could recognize him. He rented an apartment close to his old neighborhood in Damascus and used many disguises, fearing that the intelligence forces would recognize him.
“Once, I shaved my hair to become bald, and then I grew a moustache and wore dark glasses. Another time, I grew my beard so nobody could recognize me,” he said.
Fakhouri ,35 years old, is a husband and father of an 18-month- old baby.
His father Abdulraheem Fakhouri was the head of the radio and TV center in the province of Hama before retiring last year at the start of the revolt against President Bashar al-Assad’s rule.
Fakhouri, who provided Al Arabiya with some of his pictures while he was disguised in Cairo, said that he’s not one of the most famous presenters in Syria as described by some, but the well-known by Syrians.
He said he saw Assad only once at the beginning of 2012, while he was covering his visit to Austria and Slovakia, and didn’t speak to him during that trip.
He noted that he has enough money to cover his needs and his family in Cairo for three months only, and that he rented an apartment in Cairo, choosing the Egyptian capital because “the cost of living is lower, unlike nearby Istanbul or Beirut” as he said.
Fakhouri hopes to find a job in an Arabic satellite channel.
“Not because I am defector from the regime media … I want to work at a credible TV station which will give me the opportunity to prove my skills, he said. Fakhouri was widely known for producing documentaries.
He said that it is not necessary to repeat the reason behind his defection as “everybody knows the criminal acts of Assad’s regime against Syrians,” saying most of his colleagues wish to defect and are waiting for the right opportunity to flee.
Fakhouri who started in 2004 at Damascus Radio before moving two years later to the Syrian satellite channel, said that some of the opposition fighters from Hama escorted him from Damascus to a village in Idlib where he spent the night before taking him to an area close to the border with Turkey.
He then fled to Istanbul and “took a plane to join my family [in Cairo] who fled two months ago, running away from the atrocities of the regime.”
He likened working at Syrian state media is like working in a dictatorship, where “nobody has the right to give his opinion.
“Even during the meeting with the president’s advisor Butheina Chaaban, I was always aware that as an anchor I didn’t have any right to interfere in any news item and I was waiting for things to change as I had believed that Assad is intended to make reforms. When I discovered his violent path, I decide to run away to a safer place,” he added.