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Last Updated: Thursday, 19 October 2006, 18:04 GMT 19:04 UK
Syria 'to release' dissident Kilo
Syrian security forces in Damascus
Syria is often criticised for its poor human rights record
Syria has ordered the release of dissident Michel Kilo five months after his arrest, a supporter says.

"A copy of the decision to set Kilo free is with us. He will be with his family this evening," opposition figure Hassan Abdul Azim said.

A judge granted Mr Kilo bail five months after his arrest for demanding Syria establish normal diplomatic ties with Lebanon.

The authorities have not confirmed the release of Mr Kilo, a prominent writer.

He was one of 10 dissidents detained in May for signing a petition calling for changes in Syria's trouble relations with its smaller neighbour.

The only other one still believed to be in custody is the well-known human rights lawyer Anwar al-Bunni.

Hundreds of Syrian and Lebanese intellectuals signed the document, which was published in May in the Lebanese newspaper Nahar.

It called on Syria to release all Lebanese political detainees, while underlining the need to "respect and consolidate the sovereignty and independence of Lebanon and Syria" in the face of "Israeli aggression and American hegemony".

Syria frequently arrests human rights activists and others who publicly criticise government policies.

Humans rights group Amnesty International says several hundred political prisoners are detained in Syrian jails, where they risk torture and ill-treatment.

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