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Syrian Court Acquits Free-speech Campaigner

FILE - Lucie Morillon, head of research at French watchdog of Reporters Sans Frontieres (Reporters without Borders) holds a banner depicting Syrian human rights activist Mazen Darwish during a protest against violence in Syria, in Paris, Oct. 20, 2012.

A Syrian court on Monday acquitted a prominent free-speech campaigner who was released from jail three weeks ago after being held for three-and-a-half years awaiting trial under anti-terrorism laws, his wife said.

Mazen Darwish was arrested in February 2012, nearly one year into the uprising against President Bashar al-Assad.

"Today, the court has added his case to a presidential pardon issued last year. They said it is included in the pardon so all charges have been cancelled," his wife, Yara Badr, told Reuters.

Darwish, 41, is founder of the Syrian Center for Media and Freedom of Expression. He had been held on charges of spreading propaganda for terrorist acts, drawing protests from human rights groups and calls from the United States for his freedom.

When Darwish was released from prison on Aug. 10, the U.S. State Department called on Damascus to drop all remaining charges.