| ||Syrian Medical Doctor Kamal al-Labwani Released from Prison|
November 15, 2011
On November 15, 2011, after more than six years in prison, Syrian medical doctor Kamal al-Labwani was released and reunited with his family. Two actions taken by Syrian authorities facilitated his early release from prison. First, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad recently ordered Dr. al- Labwani’s original 12-year sentence to be cut in half. A prisoner of conscience, he had been jailed on charges of “providing false information,” “weakening national morale,” and “conspiring with a hostile nation to attack Syria” for criticizing Syrian government policies while traveling abroad. Second, a judge some time earlier decided to overturn an additional 3-year prison term that had been imposed while Dr. al-Labwani was in prison serving his 12-year sentence. (He had been sentenced to three years in prison for insulting President al-Assad and “broadcasting false or exaggerated news which would affect the morale of the country.”) Following his release from prison this morning, Dr. al-Labwani expressed his gratitude to all who had supported him and indicated his desire to have some peaceful time with his family.
The CHR first undertook Dr. al-Labwani’s case in 2001, when he was arrested, tried, and sentenced to a three-year prison term, which he served in full for peacefully expressing his opinion. Since Dr. al-Labwani’s second arrest, on November 8, 2005, the CHR and the International Human Rights Network of Academies and Scholarly Societies undertook a number of private actions to obtain his release from prison. CHR correspondents and H.R. Network participants wrote more than two dozen letters to Syrian authorities in Dr. al-Labwani’s behalf. Additionally, several Network members were involved in efforts to secure his release through the United Nations.