Syria Charges Hundreds With ‘Maligning the State’ Hundreds face three-year stints in jail By Kevin Spak, Newser Staff Posted May 4, 2011 11:15 AM CDT 3 comments Comments Syrian men carry bread loaves during a protest against Syrian President Bashar Assad's regime, in the coastal town of Banias, in this image taken on a mobile phone May 3, 2011. (AP Photo) (Newser) – Hundreds of the Syrians rounded up in recent days have been charged with “maligning the prestige of the state,” an offense punishable by a three-year prison term, a human rights group tells Reuters. “Mass arrests are continuing across Syria in another violation of human rights and international conventions,” a member of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said. Syrian President Bashar al-Assad promised today that the siege of Daraa would end “very soon,” downplaying the army’s assault there as a run-of-the-mill occurrence. “Any country in the world could be subjected to events that Daraa has been subjected to,” he told a semi-official newspaper.