More news came out over the weekend on the plight of political prisoners Fateh Jamous and Ali Abdallah and his sons.
On Friday, Elaph reported, quoting Ammar Qurabi of the National Organization for Human Rights (NOHR), that the security forces had transfered Ali and his son Muhammad to the Adra prison from the military prison of Saydnaya where they had been held incommunicado (Arabic. 5/12/06). However, Abdallah's other son, Omar, is still being held at the Saydnaya prison. Abdallah's wife and lawyers had tried to visit him in Saydnaya after finally knowing his whereabouts, but they were denied access for not having clearance from the security branch that made the arrest. It was later learned that it was the Military Security branch (Arabic. Levant News, 5/12/06).
Furthermore, the charges against Ali and Muhammad were still unclear despite setting the date for a trial session in mid June. Omar, along with several of his friends, is facing charges of organizing an illegal youth gathering. Qurabi added that the charges against Abdallah might be changed, which could result in a change of the court where he would be tried from the State Security Court to perhaps a regular court.
Lawyer Khalil Maatouq of NOHR told Elaph on Saturday that Ali and Muhammad are being prosecuted based on articles in Syrian law that fall under "Gathering for agitation" and "Demeaning [the judiciary and the head of state]" (Arabic. Via "Free Syria," 5/13/06). The charges carry sentences of six months to two years. It was said that Ali and Muhammad were arrested after arguing with a judge of the State Security Court in Damascus.
Fateh Jamous was also transfered last Thursday from the Saydnaya military prison to the Adra prison on the outskirts of Damascus. He had been on a three-day hunger strike. However, he was transfered without being formally charged.
Jamous and the Abdallahs (Ali and Muhammad) were then referred to the civil court where they were supposed to appear on Saturday. However, when their lawyers arrived at the court, all three defendants were absent. It turned out that the security authorities at the Adra prison did not allow them to appear in court even as they told their families that were referred to court (Arabic. "Free Syria," 5/14/06). The authorities' behavior sparked fears in human rights circles that the charges against them may be altered to more severe ones carrying life sentences. The same thing happened with Kamal Labwani, the charges against whom were suddenly, and illegally, changed and he is now facing a life sentence if convicted.
However, lawyers did say they learned that the defendants would be referred to a regular court, and not the State Security Court.
Human rights activist Ammar Qurabi had said that Jamous' interrogation did not touch on the charge of incitement against Syria before a foreign state (Arabic. NOHR via "Free Syria," 5/13/06). Yet a pro-regime publication, Cham Press, did cite leaks from "judicial sources" that Jamous and the Abdallahs were being charged with "provoking [sectarian] discord, attacking the authorities, incitement, and contacting hostile groups in foreign countries." and "coordinating with the Muslim Brotherhood." (Arabic. Levant News, 5/13/06). It was also said that Jamous would be charged for "presenting false information about alleged human rights abuses in Syria to a hostile international organization," in reference to Amnesty International. (Arabic. Levant News, 5/12/06). Jamous had appeared on al-Jazeera and criticized the regime.
Indeed, according to Qurabi, Jamous is now being prosecuted on charges of "[provoking] Discord" (provoking civil war and sectarian fighting), which carries a life sentence with hard labor. As for Abdallah, so far he is only looking at two years in prison.
Commenting on these charges against Jamous, lawyer Khalil Maatouq told Elaph that these charges "are the most serious yet against an opposition activist outside of the Muslim Brotherhood." (Arabic. Via "Free Syria," 5/13/06). He added, "It means that any traveling activist must think twice about returning to Syria, because it will cost them a great deal. It does not matter if while abroad they say that they will not ally with Khaddam, the MB, or the US to affect change in Syria, or even if they say they are with nationalist democratic change from within, or even change through the regime itself," pointing out that the charges were all false and based on no evidence whatsoever.