(AFP) – Nov 8, 2007
DAMASCUS (AFP) — A Syrian court adjourned the trial of a dissident facing a possible life sentence on charges of undermining national sentiment, postponing its verdict until November 28, defence counsel said on Thursday.
"The criminal court of Damascus has adjourned, following a session on Thursday, the case of Faeq al-Mir until November 28," lawyer Khalil Maatouk said.
Mir, who is a leader of the leftist People's Democratic Party, was arrested in his hometown of Latakia in December last year after he telephoned Lebanese leftist Elias Atallah, who is part of the country's anti-Syrian coalition.
He called to express his condolences over the murder of another anti-Syrian Lebanese politician Pierre Gemayel.
Mir is charged with "undertaking acts that weaken national sentiment" and "communicating with a foreign country to incite it to initiate aggression against Syria or to provide it with the means to do so." The latter charge carries a potential life sentence.
US-based Human Rights Watch called for the immediate release of Mir on Wednesday branding the charges as politically motivated.
In recent years, the Syrian government, which has imposed a state of emergency ever since it first came to power in 1963, has taken a tough line with dissidents who question its policy towards Lebanon.
In May 2006, the authorities detained 10 dissidents who had signed a petition calling for radical reform in Damascus's relations with its smaller neighbour. Several have since been sentenced to lengthy jail terms.
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