Syria jails veteran dissident detained at border
BEIRUT - Syrian authorities jailed Thursday a veteran dissident, arrested a day earlier as he tried to leave the country to visit his family abroad, his lawyer said.
Louay Hussein, 54, was detained at the border with Lebanon, from where he had planned to fly to Spain, his Building the Syrian State movement said Wednesday.
A judge accused him of "weakening national sentiments" and spreading "lies", the movement said.
Part of the regime-tolerated opposition, Hussein issued a stinging statement last week saying President Bashar al-Assad's regime is collapsing and calling for a coalition government with the opposition.
On Thursday, lawyer Michel Shammas said a Damascus judge had ordered Hussein's jailing, saying he was sent to Adra prison, north of the capital.
Hussein has long been an opponent of the Assad clan, which has ruled Syria for 40 years.
Like the Assads, he belongs to the Alawite sect, an offshoot of Shiite Islam.
Under the rule of Hafez al-Assad, the president's father, Hussein spent seven years in jail.
In 2011, he was detained after expressing solidarity with protesters in Damascus who had taken to the streets to denounce a government crackdown in Daraa province, birthplace of the anti-Assad revolt.
On November 4, he said in a widely distributed statement: "The Assad regime is falling apart and collapsing... The fact that Assad is still in his palace with thousands of troops and fighters guarding him doesn't change anything."
He called for "a political solution" to the conflict, which has killed more than 195,000 people since its outbreak nearly four years ago.
He also called for the regime and opposition to create a coalition government to replace Assad's rule.
The civil war began as a peaceful movement calling for democratic change before evolving into a Sunni-led insurgency after Assad unleashed a brutal crackdown.