Middle East

Jailed Syrian dissident writer released: brother

Rebel fighters hold a position as smoke billows in the background during reported battles against pro-government forces on February 23, 2014, in the Sheikh Najjar district on the outskirts of the northern Syrian city of Aleppo. AFP PHOTO / MEDO HALAB

DAMASCUS: Syria's security forces on Monday released dissident writer and journalist Akram Bunni, two days after his arrest in Damascus, his brother and rights lawyer Anwar Bunni told AFP.

"State security released Akram Bunni Monday afternoon," said Anwar Bunni, a leading human rights lawyer and activist, adding that his brother had been "questioned on several articles he had written for the Arabic press".

Akram Bunni, a 58-year-old Christian former political prisoner, was arrested in Damascus on Saturday at noon.

He had been jailed from 2007 to 2010, alongside 11 other dissidents, for signing the so-called Damascus Declaration demanding democratic change in Syria.

A member of the banned Party for Communist Action, he was also jailed from 1978 to 1980, and again from 1987 to 2001, when Syria was ruled by former President Hafez Assad, President Bashar Assad's father.

Syria's revolt began in March 2011 as a peaceful uprising demanding political change, but morphed into an insurgency after Assad's regime unleashed a brutal crackdown against dissent.

Rights groups say tens of thousands of people are being arbitrarily held in Syria's jails, including many rights defenders and peaceful activists.





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