IRAN WATCH CANADA

Tuesday, January 15, 2008


IWC:
Free Fouad Al Farhan!
Hands off blogger in Saudi Arabia!
Middle East can no longer stay the old way, Change is imminent. Undemocratic States like Saudi Arabia will vanish if resist the new trends.
Saudi Arabian King and other undemocratic ( Almost all) must bring the reform or face the struggle by new generation for democracy .
IRAN WATCH CANADA support the bloggers and Free Expression around the world as well as Saudi Arabia.
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Saudi Arabia added yet another accolade to its freedom of speech record by
arresting its first blogger. Fouad Al Farhan, considered by many as being the dean of Saudi bloggers for being among the first to blog in his country using his real name, has been arrested in Jeddah. No further news is available for the reasons for his detention.
The Arab Blogger's Observatory announced the arrest as
Searching for freedom, dignity, justice, equality, public participation, and all the rest of lost Islamic values, and for Raghad and Khetab.
Saudi blogger Fouad Al Farhan has reportedly been arrested, according to Bloggers Observatory. He was taken into custody at his office in the city of Jiddah on December 11.
Here is the translation of the Bloggers Observatory post, courtesy of Tharwa.
Saudi blogger, Fouad Al-Farhan was arrested on Tuesday, December 11, 2007 following a raid on his office by Saudi authorities who did not give any reason for his arrest.
Fuad is considered one of the first Saudi bloggers to use their real name when posting. He dedicated his blog to a frank discussion of the various social and national issues, in a true embodiment of the slogan of his blog: "in search of freedom, dignity, justice, equality, consultation, and the rest of lost Islamic values… for Raghad and Khattab."
The authorities are believed to be dismayed with Fouad for his support of the "Ten," the ten Saudi academics who were arrested earlier this year for their alleged involvement in funding terrorism, albeit the charges have yet to verified.
Fouad has been previously harassed by unknown official parties and was forced to shut down his blog between February and June 2007.
A group has arisen to agitate for his release, Free Fouad.
The rest of the story and updates below the fold.
Update: CPJ writes that Fouad was called before his arrest by a representative of the Saudi Interior Department and told that he’d be apprehended and questioned several weeks from that time. He sent an email to friends, that the CPJ quotes.
"The issue that caused all of this is because I wrote about the political prisoners here in Saudi Arabia and they think I’m running an online campaign promoting their issue," al-Farhan wrote in the e-mail, which is currently posted on his blog. He wrote that the agent promised to detain him for only a short period if he agreed to sign a letter of apology. "I am not sure if I am ready to do that. Apology for what?" he asked in the e-mail, adding that he does not want "to be forgotten in jail."
***
Update: Menassat links to an archive of Fouad’s previous blog, which he was forced to shut down by the Saudi police last year.
***
Update: There is a Free Fouad group on Facebook and an entry on Wikipedia. The first mainstream media organ, PC World, finally picked up the story and now the Washington Post (who licenses PC World’s content) has published it, as well as the Guardian have it. Considering news cycles, the story is likely to trail off after a week or two unless measures are taken to keep the story alive.
***
Update: Arab News (via Mideast Youth) reported that the Saudi Interior Ministry has confirmed Fouad’s detention.
Maj. Gen. Mansour Al-Turki, the spokesperson for the ministry, said Al-Farhan was being held for "interrogation for violating non-security regulations."
Further details on the reasons for the detention weren’t disclosed and the ministry spokesperson would not say if the interrogation had anything to do with Farhan’s web journal.
***
Update: Blogger for Freedom points us to a petition for Fouad’s freedom. Only 362 people have signed it, so please visit and add your name. Your letter will be sent to the following people.
* Prince Saud Al-Faisal, Saudi Foreign Affairs Minister* Adel Al-Jubair, Ambassador of Saudi Arabia to the US* Nicholas Burns, US Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs* Ford Fraker, US Ambassador to Saudi Arabia
***
Update: A Day of Blog Silence to Protest the Imprisonment of Blogger Fouad Alfarhan has been planned for Sunday, January 6. Download a banner to post on that day.
***
Update: According to UPI (via EarthTimes), Fouad was allowed a visitor today (January 6).
A relative has been allowed to visit a Saudi blogger jailed nearly a month ago on unspecified charges.
Fouad Al-Farhan was seen by his father-in-law Saturday at the Dahban Prison in Jeddah where he has been locked up for the past 27 days, Arab News reported Sunday.
Al-Fahran, 32, runs a blog focused on Saudi politics; however, it was not yet known if his arrest had anything to do with the online discussions.
Saudi law allows detainees to be barred from contact with family members, although some human rights activists say Al-Farhan should be allowed to see a lawyer.
A friend told Arab New Al-Farhan was in good spirits when he met with his in-law, but hadn’t been told why he is being held and faces a daily 15-minute round of questioning.

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