US condemns Syria for young blogger's 'spy' trial

The U.S. condemned Syria on Saturday for the secret trial of a young blogger on "spurious" spy charges and appealed for her immediate release.

Tal al-Mallohi was taken into custody in December 2009. Her blog, known for poetry and social commentary, focused mostly on the suffering of Palestinians. It was not clear whether al-Mallohi's arrest was connected to the blog.

A Syrian official claimed in November that her spying had led to an attack against a Syrian army officer by agents from a foreign country. The official didn't name the country she was allegedly spying for.

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."

Crowley called on Syria's government to release all prisoners of conscience and allow citizens to exercise their rights without fear of retribution.