On Wednesday (29 October) twelve leading members of a Syrian civil rights movement known as the Damascus Declaration National Council, including Riad Seif and Fidaa al-Hourani, the Council's General Secretary, were sentenced by the Damascus Criminal Court to three-year prison terms, commuted to thirty months. Federal Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier issued the following statement criticizing the verdicts:
"I am gravely concerned about today's verdicts on civil rights activists Riad Seif and Fidaa al-Hourani as well as ten other members of the Damascus Declaration National Council.
The German Government has, not least for humanitarian reasons, repeatedly raised the case of Riad Seif and the movement's other detained members with the Syrian Government.
We therefore note with regret the verdicts handed down by the court today. We are determined to continue our humanitarian efforts on behalf of Riad Seif and his fellow activists."
The group had all campaigned peacefully and at great personal risk for a strengthening of the rule of law in Syria and more opportunities for political participation.