Syria keeps writer behind bars after jail term to face trial

DAMASCUS- Syrian writer Ali Abdullah, who has served out a jail term for calling for democratic reforms, is to remain behind bars to face new charges, a human rights organisation said on Sunday.
"The writer and opposition figure Ali Abdullah has served a two-and-a-half-year jail term and was due for release last Wednesday," said the Syrian League for the Defence of Human Rights.

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, pictured 7th June 2010
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, pictured 7th June 2010
But he has instead been transferred to Damascus central prison pending a hearing before a military court, it said in a statement, adding that he had been questioned about statements he made to the media from prison.
Abdullah was one of 12 opposition figures who signed a "Damascus Declaration" calling for democratic change in Syria. They were convicted to jail terms in October 2008.
Four of them have been released over the past week after having served their full terms.
On Saturday, New York-based Human Rights Watch urged Damascus to scrap all charges against Abdullah, saying he faced a new trial for "broadcasting false or exaggerated news that could affect the morale" of Syria.
He was also accused of "spoiling Syria's relations with another country" for an article he wrote from his prison cell criticising the supremacy of religious rule in Iran, a close ally of Syria.

Monday, June 21st 2010

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