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Top Syria opposition figure Louay Hussein freed on bail

Louay Hussein will be tried for 'weakening national sentiment' in Syria
Louay Hussein, a leading Syrian intellectual and the leader of the Syrian opposition party 'Building the Syrian State Movement,' addresses a press conference in Damascus on 12 July, 2012. (AFP)

A Syrian court on Wednesday granted bail to prominent opposition figure Louay Hussein, his lawyer said, more than three months after the veteran dissident was detained.

Hussein, head of the Building the Syrian State party, "will be tried as a free man on the charges brought against him," human rights lawyer Michel Shammas told AFP.

He was detained at the border with Lebanon in November and accused of "weakening national sentiment".

The dissident "is expected to be set free from jail this evening (Wednesday) if the security situation allows it. If not, he will go home tomorrow morning," said Shammas.

Hussein "is in good health. He has been held in Adra prison" near Damascus, his lawyer said.

His trial will begin on Tuesday, Shammas added.

This was the second time Hussein was detained since the uprising against President Bashar Assad began in March 2011. He also spent several years in jail in the 1980s.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says 200,000 people have been detained or gone missing in the country's notorious jails and detention centres since the start of the revolt.

Syria's uprising began as a peaceful protest movement inspired by the pro-democracy Arab Spring and demanding the removal of Assad, but morphed into a brutal war after pro-Assad forces unleashed a massive crackdown against dissent.

The war has resulted in the deaths of an estimated 210,000 people, and displaced roughly half of the country's population, according to the UN. 

The majority of fatalities are reportedly of civilians, primarily killed by pro-Assad forces, although rebel groups are also implicated in civilian deaths.

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