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Syrian activist and lawyer wins 2010 Martin Ennals Award

Muhannad Al-Hassani, a Syrian lawyer who has challenged the oppressive legal framework imposed by the Syrian government, has been honoured with this year's Martin Ennals Award for Human Rights Defenders. He is currently in prison in poor health.

Al-Hassani is the President of the Syrian Organization for Human Rights (Swasiya), which has been denied official registration by Syrian authorities. He was arrested in July 2009 and charged with "weakening national sentiments" and "spreading false news." He was under a travel ban and constant surveillance by security forces for the past six years.

"He has regularly represented activists and political detainees before the courts and has been a leading monitor of the State Security Court, a special court that exists outside the ordinary criminal justice system," says Human Rights Watch, a member of the jury.

The ceremony for the award will take place in Geneva on 15 October 2010.

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