[JURIST] Kamal Labwani, a Syrian political dissident who founded a pro-democracy group, was sentenced to 12 years in prison Thursday for "encouraging attack against Syria" after contacting a foreign country. Labwani met with officials from the White House during a visit to the US in 2005, and was arrested [JURIST report] at the airport when he returned to Syria. The US State Department condemned [statement] the "harsh and unjust sentencing," saying:
This action against Mr. Labwani reflects the Syrian regime's contempt for human rights and a legal system devoid of legitimate legal standards. We are also concerned by reports that Mr. Labwani has been subjected to inhumane treatment during his imprisonment. We call upon the Syrian Government to live up to its obligations under the Arab Charter for Human Rights, which it ratified in February 2007, and immediately and unconditionally release all prisoners of conscience.Labwani's lawyer said that he will appeal the conviction.
Labwani's case is the second high-profile conviction in recent weeks. Human rights lawyer Anwar al-Bunni was sentenced to five years in prison [JURIST report] in late April and required to pay a fine after being convicted of spreading false information harmful to the state. AP has more.