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Muhannad al-Hassani

Syrian Human Rights Lawyer Granted Presidential Amnesty
July 6, 2011

The CHR has learned that Syrian human rights lawyer Muhannad al-Hassani was released from ’Adra Prison on June 2, 2011.  Mr. al-Hassani was one of several hundred prisoners of conscience released two days after Syrian President Bashar al-Assad granted a general amnesty to "detainees belonging to political movements."  Mr. al-Hassani had served more than one year and ten months of a three-year prison term on charges of “weakening national sentiments” and “broadcasting false or exaggerated news which would affect the morale of the country.”  Arrested on July 28, 2009, after he posted a report about an open trial before Syria's State Supreme Security Court on the Internet, Mr. al-Hassani subsequently was also disbarred by the Syrian Bar Association and banned from practicing as a lawyer for the rest of his life.  (Syrian law obligates the bar association to support the government and its goals.)  Up to that point, Mr. al-Hassani had been one of a small group of lawyers in Syria who were willing to serve as legal counsel for political detainees and challenge their harsh conditions of confinement.  Over the years, he has served as the lawyer for a number of Syrian professional colleagues whose cases have been undertaken by the CHR.  Several individual participants in the International Human Rights Network of Academies and Scholarly Societies (H.R. Network) also have been involved in efforts to secure the release through UNESCO of Syria professional colleagues defended by Mr. al-Hassani.
In its role as Secretariat of the H.R. Network, the CHR documented Mr. al-Hassani’s case and shared the information with affiliated national academies that include lawyers in their membership.  During Mr. al-Hassani's imprisonment, these academies sent more than 20 letters of appeal to Syrian authorities in his behalf.