Libya has sent to prison for 18 months a blogger who criticized the government on the Internet, Human Rights Watch says in a report that inspired a series of Web tributes to the dissident Friday.
A Tripoli court convicted Abdel Raziq al-Mansuri of illegal possession of a handgun and sentenced him to 18 months' imprisonment on Oct. 19, the New York-based rights group said in an e-mail to The Associated Press in Cairo.
"The gun charges are a ruse," said the Middle Eastern director of HRW, Sarah Leah Whitson. "The authorities went after al-Mansuri because they did not like what he wrote."
Al-Mansuri, 52, was detained in Tobruk, his hometown, in January after publishing about 50 articles critical of Libyan society and government on a dissident Web site based in Britain, the rights group said Thursday.
Libyan government officials were not available for comment Friday as the country was celebrating the Eid al-Fitr holiday that follows the holy month of Ramadan.