[QODLink]
Archive
Syrian human rights activist acquitted
A Syrian court has acquitted a leading human rights activist of accusations of anti-government activity, dropping all charges against him.
Last Modified: 26 Jun 2005 17:33 GMT
Rights groups say the Syrian authorities are high-handed
A Syrian court has acquitted a leading human rights activist of accusations of anti-government activity, dropping all charges against him.

The State Security Court on Sunday said Aktham Naisse, chairman of the Committees for the Defence of Democratic Liberties and Human Rights in Syria, was exonerated of all charges.

Syria's official news agency, SANA, said Naisse was acquitted because his case lacked "legal evidence", adding that some of the charges were dropped under a 2004 presidential amnesty.

Naisse was arrested in April 2004 on charges of spreading false information, forming an underground group, having links to international human rights organisations and other charges related to opposing the ruling Baath party.

He was released from prison four months later on $200 bail.

Court slammed

Naisse could not be reached for comment, but his lawyer, Anwar al-Bunni, said the State Security Court "was unconstitutional, illegal and unjust", despite Sunday's acquittal.

"(Four) months in prison, who can compensate for that?" he asked.

SANA said Sunday's hearing was attended by Naisse's lawyers and representatives of foreign diplomatic missions in Damascus.

Decisions by the State Security Court, which was created under Syria's 1963 emergency laws and where cases are often heard by military judges, cannot be appealed.

Verdict hailed

Ammar Qurabi, spokesman for the Arab Human Rights Organisation, called the verdict "excellent" and expressed hope that other political prisoners would be released soon.

Kurds say they face persecution
and harassment in Syria

The charges against Naisse are believed to stem from his human rights activities. In March 2004 he organised a rare protest outside Syria's parliament, which security agents quickly broke up. He and other activists were detained for a few hours and released.

Separately, the court on Sunday sentenced three Kurds to prison terms ranging from 30 to 36 months for "belonging to a banned political party".

There are about 1.5 million Kurds in Syria, a nation of 18.5 million, including about 160,000 who are denied Syrian citizenship. They often complain of harassment and persecution by security authorities.

Source:
Agencies
Topics in this article
People
Country
Organisation
Featured on Al Jazeera
'Justice for All' demonstrations swell across the US over the deaths of African Americans in police encounters.
Six former Guantanamo detainees are now free in Uruguay with some hailing the decision to grant them asylum.
Disproportionately high number of Aboriginal people in prison highlights inequality and marginalisation, critics say.
Nearly half of Canadians have suffered inappropriate advances on the job - and the political arena is no exception.
Featured
Women's rights activists are demanding change after Hanna Lalango, 16, was gang-raped on a bus and left for dead.
Buried in Sweden's northern forest, Sorsele has welcomed many unaccompanied kids who help stabilise a town exodus.
A look at the changing face of North Korea, three years after the death of 'Dear Leader'.
While some fear a Muslim backlash after café killings, solidarity instead appears to be the order of the day.
Victims spared by the deadly disease are reporting blindness and other unexpected post-Ebola health issues.