News

April 9, 2008 - Updated on January 20, 2016

Authorities asked to say why they have been holding blogger for past four months


Reporters Without Borders reiterates its request to the Saudi authorities to reveal the charges against Blogger Fouad Al Farhan, who was arrested exactly four months ago, on 10 December, for posting a blog entry about the “advantages” and “disadvantages” of being a Muslim. All the interior ministry has said is that he is being held in Jeddah's Dahban prison “for questioning.” “Farhan has been detained without explanation for four months,” the press freedom organisation said. “All his requests have been refused. He still does not have a lawyer and he has not been allowed a visit from his father since the start of the year. This arrest of a blogger is a first in the kingdom. We condemn the lack of transparency and we ask the authorities to say exactly why he is being held.” Under article 119 of Saudi criminal procedure, a judge can order that a detainee be prevented from communicating with other detainees and not be allowed any visits for a period of up to 60 days if it is in the interests of the investigation, and this can legally be extended for up to six months. His family's visit requests have been rejected since 5 January, the day his father was allowed to see him for a quarter of any hour. Farhan was able to telephone his wife on 7 March. He said he was in good health and his morale was high. His 9-year-old daughter Raghad posted a video on YouTube on 11 March asking him to come home. Campaigns in support of Farhan have been waged online and demonstrations have been held calling for his release. The interior ministry told CNN journalists in January that he would have to “cooperate” with the authorities in order to be released. The “Free Fouad” (http://en.freefouad.com/) support committee's blog has been rendered inaccessible by the authorities since 3 April, as has Farhan's own blog “Freedoms” (http://horiyat.wordpress.com/). Farhan is one of the very few bloggers in Saudi Arabia to post his blog entries in his own name. Saudi Arabia is on the Reporters Without Borders list of “Internet Enemies,” which was updated on 12 March. Since the start of the year, Internet regulations hold Internet Service Providers responsible for any illegal content. Sign the online petition for Farhan's release