U.S. protests Syrian dissident sentence

May 11, 2007 at 9:51 AM

WASHINGTON, May 11 (UPI) -- Syria's decision to sentence a prominent human rights activist has come under attack from the U.S. State Department.

The government's decision to sentence Kamal Labwani to 12 years in prison is "harsh and unjust," said State Department spokesman Sean McCormack Thursday.

"This action against Mr. Labwani reflects the Syrian regime's contempt for human rights and a legal system devoid of legitimate legal standards," he added. "We are also concerned by reports that Mr. Labwani has been subjected to inhumane treatment during his imprisonment. We call upon the Syrian government to live up to its obligations under the Arab Charter for Human Rights, which it ratified in February 2007, and immediately and unconditionally release all prisoners of conscience."

Labwani, a 50-year-old physician, also leads a pro-democracy group. He was arrested in November 2005 upon his return from the United States, where he had met with White House officials. The Syrian government has accused him of encouraging foreign attacks against Syria.

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