Syria sentences democracy campaigners to 3 yrs. in prison
Michel Kilo and Mahmoud Issa convicted of spreading false news, weakening national feeling and inciting sectarian sentiments.
By JERUSALEM POST STAFF
A Syrian court on Sunday sentenced two pro-democracy campaigners, Michel Kilo and Mahmoud Issa, to three years in prison each for spreading false news, weakening national feeling and inciting sectarian sentiments.
The ruling brings to four the number of government critics and human rights campaigners to be convicted and sentenced in the last month as Syrian President Bashar Assad continues to crack down on dissent.
The United States has condemned the detentions and trials and has called for the release of Kilo and Issa.
Kilo, 66, is one of Syria's most prominent writers and democracy campaigners. He was detained along with several other activists in May last year, days after he signed a petition calling for steps to improve Lebanese-Syrian relations, a sensitive issue for the government after the Syrian army was forced to withdraw from Lebanon in the wake of the assassination of former Lebanese Premier Rafik Hariri in 2005.
Kilo has long been an outspoken critic of the Syrian government, which tightly controls national politics and often arrests its critics. He has long called for reform in Syria and has criticized the government's involvement in the political affairs of its smaller neighbor, Lebanon.
Well-known for his political analysis, Kilo's writings were frequently published by Lebanese newspapers, including the leading anti-Syrian paper An-Nahar.
Issa is a translator and former political prisoner who previously spent eight years in jail.
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