Mother of young Syrian blogger appeals for her release

DAMASCUS Wed Sep 1, 2010 5:12pm EDT

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DAMASCUS (Reuters) - The mother of a 19-year-old female Syrian blogger who was arrested last year has appealed to President Bashar al-Assad for her release, saying her daughter does not understand anything about politics.

Security agents arrested Tal al-Molouhi, a high school student, in December, and confiscated her computer. Her mother said she has not heard from her since then.

Molouhi's blogs included poems and articles supporting the Palestinian cause and criticizing the Partnership for the Mediterranean, a French diplomatic initiative bringing together Arab and European countries, as well as Israel.

Her arrest stirred a storm in the Arab blogosphere, with numerous postings lambasting what was seen as indiscriminate repression in Syria.

There was no comment from the Syrian government, which does not usually comment on political arrests.

In a letter to Assad, Molouhi's mother said she had "knocked at every door in vain" to get information about or daughter and get answers about why she was arrested.

"I cannot describe to you the disaster that has befallen our family and what we're suffering. She is young and does not understand anything about politics," said the letter, released Wednesday on the Internet by the independent Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

"One security branch promised me that my daughter would be set free before the advent of the blessed month of Ramadan. But Ramadan is almost over," Molouhi's mother wrote.

In the absence of print media not controlled by the government, the Internet has become the main outlet for the expression of independent views in Syria, where political opposition has been banned and emergency law in place since the Baath party took power in 1963.

But several Syrian bloggers and writers have been arrested, with some sentenced to long terms.

Political prisoner Ali al-Abdallah was denied release despite the expiry of his two and a half year sentence in June, after he wrote an article from jail in support of the Iranian opposition that was published on the Internet.

Abdallah was returned to prison and charged with weakening national morale and trying to sabotage Syria's ties with a friendly country.

Major Internet sites, like YouTube and Facebook, are also blocked, although Assad has a Facebook page and led efforts to introduce the Internet to Syria before he succeeded his father, the late President Hafez Al-Assad, in 2000.

(Editing by Noah Barkin)

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