Syria frees writer detained for online activity

Syria on Thursday released writer Louai Hussein, who was detained earlier this week for posting a petition online demanding the right to freedom of expression, a human rights lawyer said.

"Security services released Louai Hussein on Thursday," Michel Shammas told AFP, two days after the 51-year-old was reported arrested.

Hussein, 51, is a former political prisoner who was jailed from 1984 to 1991 for membership in the banned communist party.

Amnesty International has compiled a list of 93 people, some for their online activities, arrested this month in the cities of Damascus, Aleppo, Banias, Daraa, Hama, Homs, and others.

"The real number of those arrested is likely to be considerably higher," read Amnesty's press release.

Protests took place in Syria in the past week with the southern city of Daraa emerging as the hub of a movement demanding reforms and the lifting of an emergency law in place since 1963.

Buthaina Shaaban, an advisor to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, on Thursday announced that the ruling Baath party agreed to a string of reforms, including the possibility of emergency rule.

Activists have said 100 people were killed in a week of anti-regime protests in Daraa, but Shaaban put the toll at 10.

-AFP/NOW Lebanon

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