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BRUSSELS (Reuters) - The European Union's top court on Thursday upheld an asset freeze for a cousin of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, saying the European Union had shown him to be linked to the government.

In 2011, the EU included businessman Rami Makhlouf, a cousin of the Syrian president, on a list of people to be hit with asset freezes and a travel ban because of the government's actions in the country's civil war.

Makhlouf had fought the asset freeze for the period of May 29, 2016 to May 31, 2017 at the EU's General Court, which rejected his claim. He later appealed that decision.

"The Court dismisses Mr Makhlouf's appeal and thus confirms that the restrictive measures against him must be maintained for the period 2016-2017," the European Court of Justice said, adding the EU had shown him to be associated with and providing support for the Syrian government.

(Reporting by Robert-Jan Bartunek; Editing by Janet Lawrence)

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Reuters