Source AP ©

5 Syrians jailed for belonging to secret Islamist organization

Five Syrians were convicted for belonging to a secret Islamist organization aimed at changing the nature of the state, and got up to nine years in prison.

The National Organization for Human Rights in Syria said that the court sentenced Mohammed Said Dahman to nine years in jail, while four others received five years each.

In a separate case, the court postponed until Nov. 8 the trial of Faiq El-Mir, who was arrested in December 2006 over charges of insulting the Syrian regime and belonging to the outlawed Syrian People's Party, NOHR's statement added.

Initially upon coming to power in 2000, President Bashar Assad freed hundreds of political prisoners and passed laws aimed at liberalizing the state-controlled economy.

The opening, however, was short-lived and the state soon clamped down once more on political activists, jailing pro-democracy advocates and government critics.