Syria` Muhanad al-Hassani arrested
5 August 2009

Syria` Muhanad al-Hassani arrested

On July 28th, 2009, the Syrian human rights lawyer Muhanad al-Hassani was arrested by national security officials. Al-Hassani is charged with ‘weakening patriotic feelings’, ‘encouraging sectarian or ethnical division’ and ‘spreading false or exaggerated statements aimed at weakening the nation’, which constitute violations of art. 385 and 386 of the Syrian Penal Code.

In reality, however, his detention probably is related to his human rights work, particularly his monitoring of the Supreme State Security Court (SSSC), a special court that exists outside the ordinary criminal justice system. Every week, the 42-year-old lawyer published a report on the monitoring of the functioning of this special jurisdiction. Furthermore, al-Hassani is president of the Syrian Organization for Human Rights (Sawasiah) and regularly defends activists and political detainees. Security services have frequently prevented him from travelling abroad because of his work.

His arrest follows on earlier intimidations. On July 19th, while Al-Hassani was attending a trial at the SSSC, his notebook was taken by a security official, who tore out the pages on which Al-Hassani had written his observations. On July 23rd, 26th and 27th, he was interrogated by security services. Subsequently, he was arrested. Al-Hassani is detained in Adra prison, on the outskirts of Damascus.

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