Al-Abdallah, a freelance journalist who regularly contributed to prominent Arabic-language newspapers outside Syria, was arrested in 2007 in connection with his political activism. A leader of the Damascus Declaration, a reform movement calling for democratic change in Syria, al-Abdallah was sentenced to 30 months in prison.
On June 17, 2010,his scheduled release date, a military prosecutor told al-Abdallah he would face new charges related to his prison writings, his son, Mohammad al-Abdallah, told CPJ. In September, a military judge charged al-Abdallah with harming relations with a foreign country, according to local human rights groups.
The charges stemmed from a piece al-Abdallah wrote and smuggled out of prison in August 2009, according to news reports. The article criticized Wilayat al-Faqih, a religious form of government advocated by Iranian Shiite leaders. The Syrian government is sensitive to critical writing about Iran, a close regional ally.