EU: 'Deep regret' over Syrian dissident's fate

Germany's EU Presidency on Friday expressed "deep regret" at the sentencing of prominent Syrian dissident and human rights activist. Kamal Labwani, who was jailed after meeting US White House officials two years ago, was sentenced Thursday to 12 years in prison by a Syrian court. It was the harshest sentence against a dissident since Syrian President Bashar Assad took over from his late father in 2000. Less than two weeks ago, another pro-democracy activist was given a five-year prison sentence. "The European Union reiterates its commitment to freedom of opinion and the right to a fair trial, as laid down in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights which was ratified by Syria," the German presidency said in a statement. "The European Union has serious doubts that these rights of the defendant have been respected. The European Union therefore calls on the relevant Syrian bodies to reverse the judgment."