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Human rights organisations protest military trial, harsh sentencing of writer for critical Internet articles

(HRinfo/IFEX) - The following is a joint statement by HRinfo, EOHR, CIHRS, and several other organisations:

Egyptian human rights organizations call for a fair trail for Habib Saleh

Cairo, 16 August 2006

Egyptian human rights organizations condemned today the harsh penalty handed down by a military court in Hamas City, Syria, to the writer Habib Saleh, aged 59, for Internet articles of his that criticised the Syrian government.

Habib Saleh was arrested on May 27, 2005, from his office in Tartos, and was kept under arrest for more than one year before receiving yesterday's sentence of three years in jail. The military court accused him of "disseminating false news".

This decision is not the first of its kind against Saleh. In 2002, he was sentenced to three years' imprisonment, along with ten other activists, in a case referred to as "Damascus Spring". Syria has been under a state of emergency for 43 years.

The undersigned Egyptian NGOs state that "freedom of expression and political criticism are the rights of every citizen. And when the government claims that criticism has gone beyond the limits of the law, there should be a fair and just trial, which was not the case with Habib Saleh. A trial by military court under a state of emergency does not reach a minimum standard of justice."

Habib Saleh is the seventh Syrian writer to be tried for online articles. Unfair military trials have become a systematic way of dealing with writers, journalists and democracy advocates in Syria.

For more information about cyber-dissidents in Syria:


1. Arabic Network for Human Rights Information (HRinfo)
2. Association for Human Rights Legal Aid
3. Egyptian Organization for Human Rights
4. South Center for Human Rights
5. Al-Nadim Center for Psychological Rehabilitation of the Victims of Violence
6. Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies
7. Egyptian Association against Torture
8. Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights
9. Center for Rural Studies - Egypt
10. Hisham Mubarak Center for Law
11. The Arabic Program for Human Rights Activists
12. Association for Freedom of Thought and Expression
13. Maat Center for Legal and Constitutional Studies- Egypt
14. The Egyptian Association for Community Participation Enhancement
15. Andalus Center for the Studies of Tolerance and Violence Confrontation
16. The Egyptian association for economic and social rights
17. Habi Center for Environmental Rights - Egypt
18. Development and Human Rights Forum - Egypt
19. Shomuu for Humanitarian Rights Care
20. Awlad Al-Ard Institution for Human Rights

Arabic Network for Human Rights Information

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