SYRIA : ’Ali al-’Abdullah and Muhammad ’Ali al-’Abdullah Incommunicado detention/Prisoners of conscience

MDE 24/062/2006

Further Information on UA 73/06 (MDE 24/028/2006, 31 March 2006) and follow-up (MDE 24/035/2006, 10 May 2006 ; MDE 24/058/2006, 2 October 2006) –

Incommunicado detention/Prisoners of conscience

SYRIA : ’Ali al-’Abdullah (m) aged around 55, journalist
Muhammad ’Ali al-’Abdullah (m) his son, a student

06 October 2006

Prisoners of conscience, ’Ali al-’Abdullah and his son Muhammad ’Ali al-’Abdullah were ordered to be released after their hearing at the Military Court on 4 October 2006. They arrived home the following day.

The court sentenced ’Ali and Muhammad al-’Abdullah to six months in prison on charges including "broadcasting abroad false or exaggerated news which would damage the reputation of the state". ’Ali al-’Abdullah was sentenced to another six months on charges of "damaging" the financial reputation of the state. The judge took the decision to merge ’Ali al-’Abdullah’s sentences into one six month sentence. A further charge connected with allegations that he insulted the Syrian President was dropped.

Muhammad al-’Abdullah could have served another month’s imprisonment as he was also convicted on charges relating to causing "riots", but the judge ordered that he should serve only six months’ imprisonment. The charge against him relating to insulting the President of the Supreme State Security Court (SSSC) was dropped.

They were released as they had already served six months in prison, and were ordered to pay a fine of 100 Syrian Lira (equivalent to $US 2).

’Ali and Muhammad al-’Abdullah were arrested on 23 March 2006 after they attended a peaceful demonstration outside the SSSC. During 2005, ’Ali al-’Abdullah spent over five months and Muhammad al-’Abdullah spent three weeks in detention, again for peacefully expressing their opinions (see UA 139/05, MDE 24/032/2005 and follow-ups, and UA 203/05, MDE 24/056/2005 and follow-ups). They are just two of dozens of civil society activists and human rights defenders who have been arrested, held in prolonged detention including incommunicado without access to their families or lawyers. These people are being detained and sentenced following grossly unfair trials merely for peacefully expressing their legitimately held beliefs.

’Ali al-’Abdullah’s other son, ’Omar, has been held in incommunicado detention reportedly in Sednaya prison on the outskirts of Damascus since 18 March 2006. He is held with seven other young men arrested between January and March 2006 in connection with their involvement in developing a youth movement and in writing political articles for various websites. Amnesty International considers the eight men to be prisoners of conscience, held solely for the peaceful expression of their beliefs (see MDE 24/059/2006, 3 October 2006).

Thanks to all those who sent appeals on this case. No further action is required.

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