Muhannad al-Hassani, who in May won the prestigious 2010 Martin Ennals Award recognizing the work of human rights defenders, was convicted by a Damascus court today.
The charges were brought against him after he drew public attention to unfair trials of political prisoners before the notorious Supreme State Security Court (SSSC) and a death that may have been caused by torture or other ill-treatment in detention, and met foreign embassy officials to discuss human rights.
The Damascus Criminal Court sentenced al-Hassani to three years in prison after convicting him of “weakening national sentiment” and “conveying within Syria false news that could debilitate the morale of the nation”– vague and broadly-drawn catch all charges that are regularly used by the Syrian authorities to jail peaceful critics and individuals who promote human rights in the country.
He is a prisoner of conscience who has done no more than stand up for the human rights of those who fall foul of the Syrian authorities and expose unfair trials and other abuses.
Amnesty International condemns the three year prison sentence imposed today and is calling for al-Hassani’s immediate and unconditional release.