HRW calls for release of Syrian activist

December 17, 2010 15:36

DAMASCUS, Syria — An international human rights group is urging Syrian authorities to release a political activist who made comments critical of Iran.

Ali Abdullah of the Damascus Declaration opposition group completed a 30-month prison term in June for earlier criticism of the government. But instead of releasing him, authorities referred him to a military court for a new trial on charges of broadcasting false news that harms Syria's relations with another country.The New York-based Human Rights Watch said Abdullah had made statements from his prison cell critical of Iran, a close ally of Syria.

In a statement Friday, HRW said Abdullah's prosecution violates his right to engage in peaceful political comment. It called for his immediate release.

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