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9 Communists Freed From Prison, Group Says

November 20, 2001|From Times Wire Reports

The Syrian government has freed nine communists, two of whom had been in prison for 14 years, a human rights group said.

Since taking office, Syrian President Bashar Assad has released hundreds of political prisoners and approved a number of measures aimed at liberalizing the economy. But he also has clamped down on pro-democracy activists.

Aktham Nueisa, the head of the Committees for the Defense of Human Rights in Syria, said in Damascus, the capital, that the government had granted an amnesty to the nine. Nueisa said the prisoners had been convicted of belonging to an illegal organization, the Communist Labor Party.

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