Britain 'deeply dismayed' at reports of Syria lawyer assault
British junior foreign minister Alistair Burt said Friday he was "deeply dismayed" by reports that a prominent Syrian lawyer had been beaten in prison, saying Damascus had failed to protect him.
Burt relayed his concerns to the Syrian ambassador to Britain on the telephone Friday, the Foreign Office said, after leading international human rights groups raised the case of Muhannad al-Hassani, a political prisoner.
Eight groups including Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch say Hassani, co-founder of the Syrian Human Rights Organisation, was "physically assaulted" on October 28 by a fellow prisoner in his jail in Damascus.
"I am deeply dismayed to hear reports of the severe physical assault by a fellow prisoner on Muhannad al-Hassani, a prominent Syrian lawyer and Human Rights Defender, in Adra Prison last week," Burt said in a statement.
"I am concerned that the Syrian authorities have failed to protect him.
"In addition any suggestion that the attack may have been ordered by the Syrian security services and that he remains at risk are disturbing."
The minister urged Syria to release Hassani, as well as all the other political prisoners in the country.
"I call on the Syrian government to meet its international responsibilities by ending its practice of arbitrary arrests and detention," he said.
© 2010 AFP