RealNews

Syria Frees 130 Prisoners; Some See a Reaction to New Pressures

The news came, Faris Mourad said, as “a total surprise.” For 30 years, he endured life as a political prisoner here, suffering torture, harsh conditions, an untreated disease that curved his spine, permanently and painfully. Then on Jan. 31, along with almost 130 other political prisoners in Syria’s police state, he was suddenly freed. Syria has still not explained to the nation this act of unexpected clemency toward a handful of perhaps 3,000 such prisoners — or even acknowledged publicly that it happened. But some human rights officials say it is a sign, if a small and ambiguous one, of the larger pressures Syria is under these days, with more than 100,000 American soldiers next door in Iraq and increasing impatience for change at home. It was the first release of a large number of prisoners since 2001, in the early days of promises by a new, young president, Bashar al-Assad, for greater democracy. Full Story

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