First Published: 2007-04-24

Syria rights activist jailed for five years

Anwar Bunni sentenced to five years in prison for ‘spreading false information’.


Middle East Online

Syria cracks down on dissidents

DAMASCUS - Syrian human rights activist Anwar Bunni was on Tuesday sentenced to five years in prison on charges of "spreading false information", his lawyer said.

Khalil Maatuk said he was sentenced in a Damascus criminal court.

Bunni, himself a lawyer, was arrested in the Syrian capital in May 2006 after signing an appeal for radical reform in relations between Syria and neighbouring Lebanon.

Syria's state prosecutor said in February that Bunni would be prosecuted for spreading false information.

Bunni was the director of a legal rights centre in Syria financed partly by the European Union and established by a Belgian non-governmental organisation. The centre was closed down after his arrest.

In a statement to the court in January, Bunni said he was being judged for his opinions and had in no way violated the Syrian constitution or the law.

The "Beirut-Damascus Declaration" published in the Lebanese capital in May 2006 was signed by nearly 300 Syrian and Lebanese intellectuals.

In a crackdown that followed in Syria, Bunni was arrested along with nine others, including journalist and writer Michel Kilo and communist activist Mahmud Issa.

On March 27, Kilo and Issa were charged in court with spreading false information and sowing discord, and they also face possible jail terms of at least three years.


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