RIYADH - A group of prominent Saudi political activists who were jailed for long terms more then a year ago have been offered release if they sign a document pledging to abandon their activities, their lawyer said.

Bassim Alim, who represented 16 Saudi activists sentenced in November 2011 for terms of between five and 30 years for convictions ranging from financing terrorism to incitement against the king, said 10 of the men had signed the document.

The Saudi government said at the time of their trial that the men, most of whom were arrested in Jeddah in 2007, had aided militants who went to fight against Western forces occupying Iraq.

The defendants said they were purely peaceful activists who had called for political change. Rights group Amnesty International said they had tried to set up a human rights organization.

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