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April 28, 2008 - Updated on January 20, 2016

Blogger Fouad al Farhan freed after more than four months in prison


Reporters Without Borders today welcomed the release of blogger Fouad al Farhan, who had been held in prison since 10 December 2007, for posting an article on his blog discussing the “advantages” and “disadvantages” of being a Muslim. “We urge the interior ministry to officially confirm his release and to promise that this kind of thing will not happen again,” the press freedom organisation added.
Reporters Without Borders today welcomed the release of blogger Fouad al Farhan, who had been held in prison since 10 December 2007, for posting an article on his blog discussing the “advantages” and “disadvantages” of being a Muslim. Fouad al Farhan, 32, was one of the first Saudi bloggers to dispense with a pseudonym on his site (http://www.alfarhan.org). He was also the first cyber-dissident to be jailed in the country. Shortly before his arrest, he had spoken about his fears of repercussions over his online articles. Saudi authorities have since the start of the year stepped up online control. It's practice of strict filtering in the name of religious values makes any provider or distributer of Internet equipment liable before the law. This means that a cyber-café manager can be jailed for an article infringing these “values” posted on his premises. “The release of Fouad al Farhan is good news because no charges were laid against him. However it took the authorities four months of ‘questioning' to realise that his imprisonment was unfair and unjustified,” the worldwide press freedom organisation said. “We urge the interior ministry to officially confirm his release and to promise that this kind of thing will not happen again,” it added. During his detention in Jeddah, in the north-west of the country, the only visit he was allowed was from his father, on 5 January 2008, and he was denied the services of a lawyer. He was freed on 26 April 2008. Under Article 119 of the Saudi criminal code, the judge can order that a defendant have no contact with any other prisoner and refuse him visits for a period of up to six months. With the support of the Saudi blogosphere, his support committee (http://en.freefouad.com/), run by fellow bloggers, launched a campaign for his release on 6 January 2008. Some of them also ran his blog while he was in jail, but in March the authorities blocked access to both websites. Saudi Arabia is on Reporters Without Borders' list of “Internet enemies”. More information about : - Fouad Al Farhan - Internet in Saudi Arabia