1US condemns Syria for jailing human rights lawyer .
2The United States on Thursday condemned Syria for jailing an award-winning Syrian human rights lawyer and urged Damascus to release him and other Syrians .
3`` We regard the sentencing of Syrian lawyer Muhannad al-Hassani to three years in prison as an example of Syria 's failure to comply with minimum international human rights standards , '' said Mark Toner , a State Department spokesman .
4Syrian rights groups said on Wednesday that Muhannad al-Hasni has been sentenced to three years in prison for `` spreading false information . ''
5His conviction `` sends a clear message to the world : Syria will not tolerate peaceful forms of freedom of expression , '' Toner said in a statement .
6`` We call on the Syrian government to meet its responsibilities under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights , '' he said , adding that Syria `` should demonstrate its commitment to international legal norms by releasing Hassani and other Syrian citizens . ''
7The sharp criticism comes even as President Barack Obama 's administration tries to engage diplomatically with its former US foe as part of efforts to promote comprehensive Arab-Israeli peace .