the WHITE HOUSEPresident Barack Obama

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The White House
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release

Statement by NSC Spokesman Mike Hammer on Syrian convictions of Human Rights activists

We join the international community in condemning the recent decisions by the Syrian government to convict and sentence human rights lawyers, 79-year old Haitham Maleh on Sunday, July 4, and Muhanad al-Hasani on June 23 for publicly expressing their views.  These actions are part of a worrying trend of actions taken by the government against lawyers and civil society activists.  We also condemn the re-arrest of Damascus Declaration’s National Council member Ali Abdullah, who was originally scheduled for release from prison on June 18, but now faces new charges. 

We call on the Syrian government to meet its responsibilities under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and to end its practice of arbitrary arrests and detention and to permit its citizens freedom of expression and association.  As President Assad approaches the 10th anniversary of his presidency on July 20, Syria should demonstrate its commitment to international legal norms by releasing Maleh, al-Hasani, Abdullah, and other Syrian citizens who have been imprisoned solely for seeking to exercise their right to peaceful free expression and freedom of association.