Saudis Detaining Popular Political BloggerJan 2nd, 2008 | By James Lewin | Category: Podcasting Law
Saudi political blogger Fouah al-Farhan is being held for ‚Äúpurposes of interrogation‚Äù. Farhan‚Äôs blog criticizes official corruption and advocates government reform, and has become one of the most widely read in Saudi Arabia.
Saudi Arabia, a monarchy, restricts free speech and does not allow public political gatherings. The Saudi press has not reported Farhan’s arrest.
Mr. Farhan, 32, of Jidda, was arrested Dec. 10 at his office. In a note written shortly before his arrest, he said that he suspected he was going to be taken in because of his political views:
I was told that there is an official order from a high-ranking official in the Ministry of the Interior to investigate me. They will pick me up anytime in the next 2 weeks.
The issue that caused all of this is because I wrote about the political prisoners here in Saudi Arabia and they think I‚Äôm running a online campaign promoting their issue. All what I did is wrote some pieces and put side banners and asked other bloggers to do the same.
he asked me to comply with him and sign an apology. I‚Äôm not sure if I‚Äôm ready to do that. An apology for what? Apologizing because I said the government is liar when they accused those guys to be supporting terrorism?
To expect the worst which is to be jailed for 3 days till we write good feedback about you and let u go
there may be no jial and only apologizing letter. But, if it‚Äôs more than three days, it should be out. I don‚Äôt want to be forgotten in jail.‚Äù hat there is an order from a high-ranking official in the Ministry of the Interior to investigate me. They will pick me up anytime in the next 2 weeks.
Mr. Farhan was one of the first Saudi bloggers to post items in Arabic and to use his real name.