Syrian court sentences political activist for insulting regime

A Syrian criminal court on Monday convicted a political activist of insulting the regime and contacting "hostile parties," and sentenced him to three years in prison, a human rights group said. Faiq al-Mir's sentence, handed down by Judge Mohieddine Halaq, was then commuted to one and a half years in jail, the National Organization for Human Rights in Syria, or NOHR, said in a statement. A member of the outlawed Syrian Democratic People Party, al-Mir was arrested in December 2006 after visiting Lebanon to offer condolences to the family of assassinated Lebanese politician George Hawi, a critic of Syria's role in the neighboring country. The charges against al-Mir also included spreading false information that can weaken national feelings, fomenting riots, showing overt hostility to the state's policy and contacting hostile parties, including a coalition of anti-Syrian Lebanese politicians.