Syria jails government critic over "unlawful" internet use

Amnesty calls it "grossly unfair"…

Amnesty calls it "grossly unfair"…

Syria has jailed a man for two-and-a-half years for downloading internet articles critical of the government and emailing them to friends.

Abdel Rahman al-Shaghouri was found guilty of "disseminating in Syria false and exaggerated news that sap the morale of the nation". The articles from are considered by the authorities to contain "ideas and views opposed to the system of government in Syria". Al-Shaghouri was arrested in February 2003.

Human rights group Amnesty International has condemned the sentence and is calling for the immediate and unconditional release of four other Syrians currently being held on similar charges. In a public statement Amnesty it considers the trial to be "grossly unfair".

Muhannad Qutavsh, his brother Haytham, and Yahia al-Aws were all arrested one and a half years ago for sending articles to an online newspaper in the United Arab Emirates and are facing charges of "receiving secret information on behalf of a foreign state which threatens the security of Syria".

Student Mas'oud Hamid is in prison for "unlawful" use of the internet after he posted photos of a Kurdish demonstration in Damascus on an internet site. Amnesty claims he is being held incommunicado in solitary confinement.


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