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Blogger sentenced to three years' imprisonment for "spreading false news"

(ANHRI/IFEX) - The Arabic Network for Human Rights Information (ANHRI) has denounced a Supreme State Security Court decision on 13 September 2009 sentencing blogger Kareem Arbaji to three years in prison for "spreading false news liable to undermine the nation's spirit", according to article 286 of the Syrian Penal Code.

Arbaji has already spent more than two years in prison, since his arrest by military intelligence officers in June 2007 for his role as administrator of the online forum "Akhawya" (Brotherhood). He was tortured during his interrogation and ill-treated during his two years in detention.

ANHRI believes that the charge against Arbaji is a false one, used only as a pretext to inhibit freedom of expression and repress activists.

ANHRI calls the sentence cruel and disproportionate and urges the Syrian government to immediately release Arbaji and all prisoners of conscience currently being held in Syrian prisons. ANHRI further calls for an end to arbitrary detentions and the interference of security services in judicial affairs.

Finally, ANHRI urges the Syrian government to eliminate the State Security Court, as it is a stain on the Syrian justice system.

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