January 3, 2008
Another Blogger Detained In The Middle East
This time, it's in Saudi Arabia.
A week before U.S. President George W. Bush travels to the region, a tour which includes a stop in Riyadh for face-to-face talks with ally King Abdallah, it has been made public that authorities have "detained" Saudi blogger Fouad Al-Farhan.
Below is a letter sent by Fouad himself to his friends a few days before his arrest. It is posted on his blog in Arabic and English.
"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 cause all of this is because I wrote about the political prisoners here in Saudi Arabia and they think I’m 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’m not sure if I’m 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 you go.
There may be no jail and only apologizing letter. But if it’s more than three days, it should be out. I don’t want to be forgotten in jail."
Thanks to Tracy Doueiry of CNN's Arab Affairs Desk for collecting much of the information related to this case. Check out CNN.com's story on the blogging community's reaction here.
Update: Many in the Middle East blogging community are publicly calling for the release of Fouad Al-Farhan. One in particular, 24-year-old Riyadh resident Ahmed Al-Omran, is asking readers to sign an online petition on his blog saudijeans.org. Al-Omran is scheduled to appear today on Your World Today on CNN International and CNN at Noon EST.
We will continue to monitor the story and post updates on this blog. Watch this space throughout the day.
--Posted by Hala Gorani
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