Reporters Without Borders is disturbed to learn that Tal Al-Mallouhi, a 19-year-old student and blogger who has been detained for the past 11 months, is to be tried before a special security court whose verdicts cannot be appealed.
Brought before the high court for state security in Damascus on 10 November, Mallouhi is reportedly accused of spying on behalf of the United States. She is being held in solitary confinement in Duma prison, near Damascus, where her family has been allowed to visit her only once since her arrest by intelligence officers at the end of December 2009.
“We urge the Syrian authorities to act in a transparent manner and to try this young blogger before an ordinary court, and if they cannot produce real evidence against her, instead of vague allegations, she should be released,” Reporters Without Borders said.
“She is an ordinary student who, far from being a dissident, just shared her vision of society on her blog,” the press freedom organization added. “She appears to have been the victim of a crude piece of manipulation by the Syrian intelligence services.”
Mallouhi, whose computer and personal effects were seized at the time of her arrest, blogged mainly about the fate of the Palestinians. The charges against her seem to be based above all on a letter she wrote to U.S. President Barack Obama urging him to take a more balanced position towards the Arabs and Muslims, and on an invitation she received to attend a U.S. national holiday reception at the U.S. embassy in Cairo.
It appears that the Syrian authorities were looking for a scapegoat to blame in connection with an attack on a Syrian intelligence officer in Cairo.
At least seven Syrian human rights organizations have signed an appeal for her release that was organized by the Syrian Human Rights Observatory, the Syrian League for the Defence of Human Rights and the National Organization for Human Rights in Syria.