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Jailed Syrian Political Dissident Granted Pardon


A jailed Syrian political dissident was granted a presidential pardon Saturday for humanitarian reasons.

The early release was ordered for Riad al-Turk, an outspoken political opposition leader, who was sentenced to 30 months in jail in June for attacking the Syrian constitution, inciting insurrection and weakening the nation's morale.

Syria's state news agency, SANA, says al-Turk's pardon was ordered by President Bashar al-Assad for humanitarian reasons. The 72-year-old leader of the banned communist party reportedly suffers a heart condition, high blood pressure and diabetes.

He was arrested late last year along with nine others in a government crackdown on dissidents. The others have not been released. Al-Turk had previously spent 17 years in prison.

President Assad freed hundreds of political prisoners when he succeeded his late father, Hafez al-Assad. However, last year, he began clamping down on dissidents following what political analysts say was pressure from the Syrian military.

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