Al-Mallohi, a blogger, was detained in December 2009 after she was summoned for questioning by security officials, according to local rights groups. In February 2011, she was sentenced by a state security court to five years in prison on charges of disclosing state secrets.
The privately owned newspaper Al-Watan said in October 2010 that al-Mallohi was suspected of spying for the United States. But lawyers allowed into the closed court session said the judge "did not give evidence or details as to why she was convicted," the BBC reported. The U.S. State Department condemned the trial, saying in a statement that the allegations of espionage were baseless.
In October 2013, a Syrian court ordered al-Mallohi's release, news reports said. But the order was never carried out and she was transferred to the General Security Directorate in Damascus, according to Amnesty International and news reports. After several months, she was returned to Adra prison on the outskirts of Damascus, the reports said.
It is not clear why al-Mallohi remains in custody despite the court order for her release. Her sentence would have expired by early 2016.
Al-Mallohi's blog was devoted to Palestinian rights and was critical of Israeli policies. It also discussed the frustrations of Arab citizens with their governments and what she perceived to be the stagnation of the Arab world. Al-Mallohi's case gained widespread attention in the Arab blogosphere, on social media websites, and with human rights activists worldwide.
In July 2018, news reports said she was still being held in Adra prison, on the outskirts of Damascus.
In a feature story published by The New York Times on August 7, 2018, Syrian artist Azza Abo Rebieh, who spent five months in Adra prison between September 2015 and January 2016, said she met al-Mallohi while in detention. “Inside, she must have lost her mind. When the guards come and count us, she has to be in very good form and put on a perfume so when the counting starts she appears in perfect form. You look at her and you pity her,” the Times cited Abo Rebieh’s as saying about al-Mallohi.
As of late 2018, neither the Syrian mission to the United Nations nor the Syrian Interior Ministry had responded to CPJ’s emailed request for information on al-Mallohi's legal status and health.
Thousands of Syrians have disappeared into Syrian custody since the start of the uprising in 2011. According to a 2015 Human Rights Watch report, families are often forced to pay large bribes to learn any information about their relatives, and other families never approach the security branches for fear of being arrested themselves. Of 27 families of deceased prisoners interviewed by Human Rights Watch for the report, only two received formal death certificates.