HRW urges Syria to free critic of Iran poll



NEW YORK- Human Rights Watch called on Friday for Syrian authorities to release an opposition activist who criticised last year's presidential poll in Iran, an ally of Damascus.
"Syrian authorities should not prosecute a political activist for statements criticising Iran's 2009 presidential election and should release him immediately," HRW said in a statement condemning Ali al-Abdullah's detention.



HRW urges Syria to free critic of Iran poll
"Such a prosecution would appear to be a violation of his right to freely engage in peaceful political comment," the rights watchdog said.
It said Abdullah had on June 17 completed a 30-month prison sentence imposed "for attending a peaceful political meeting."
"Instead of releasing him, prison authorities referred him to a military court for his statement to a news agency from his prison cell criticising human rights violations" during the Iranian election, it said.
The New York-based organisation said he had also criticised the "wilayat al-faqih" political system of the Islamic republic that grants absolute authority to its spiritual guide.
"This is a new low for a government known for its complete intolerance of criticism," Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East director at Human Rights Watch, said in the statement.
"Syria's authorities are no longer satisfied with jailing peaceful critics of their own policies. Now they want to punish people for what they say about another government."
HRW said a military judge had on September 19 charged Abdullah with "spoil(ing) Syria's relations with another country."
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Saturday, December 18th 2010
AFP
           


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