Teenage Girl Jailed In Syria For Blogging
They’re calling Tal al-Mallouhi a spy, but it’s fairly clear that she was targeted for blogging about political reform in one of the Arab world’s most repressive states:
DAMASCUS, Syria (AP) — A Syrian court on Monday sentenced a 19-year-old blogger to five years in prison on charges of spying for a foreign country.
The United States and international human rights groups have called for the release of Tal al-Mallohi who has been held since December 2009. Her blog, known for poetry and social commentary, focuses mostly on the suffering of Palestinians. It was not clear whether al-Mallohi’s arrest was connected to the blog.
Syria’s Higher State Security Court issued the sentence at the end of a trial behind closed doors Monday, an official close to the court told The Associated Press.
The court convicted al-Mallohi of “contacting a foreign country,” the official said. “She has leaked information that should be kept secret,” the official said on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the case.
The official did not identify the country she was accused of spying for or give any other details. He said al-Mallohi “deserved 15 years in prison but her sentence was commuted considering her age.”
A Syrian official in October said her alleged spying had led to an attack against a Syrian army officer by agents of the foreign country she was spying for. He did not elaborate.
The U.S. on Saturday condemned Syria for the secret trial and appealed for al-Mallohi’s immediate release.
State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley sharply criticized Syria’s handling of the case. He rejected what he called “baseless allegations of American connections that have resulted in a spurious accusation of espionage.”
This isn’t the first time that a bloggers have been targeted in the Arab world. Hosni Mubarak’s Egypt did the same thing many times, and Syria has as well. If you’re interested in learning more about al-Mallohi’s case, her supporters have set up a Facebook page. Once can hope that international protests will bring an end to this injustice, but Syria is hardly a nation that has a history of bending to pressure on issues like this.