The Saudi interior ministry yesterday confirmed the authorities are holding Ahmad Fouad Al-Farhan, a blogger whose location had been unknown since his arrest on 10 December.
Detained blogger Fouad al-Farhan's father-in-law was able to visit him for one hour on 5 January in Jeddah's Dhaban prison. It was the first time Farhan has been allowed a visit from a relative since his arrest on 10 December. “We reiterate our call for the authorities to explain why Farhan has been arrested,” Reporters Without Borders said. “He still has not been able to see a lawyer and his situation has not evolved in the past month. No charge has been brought against him. He has been questioned for long enough and we demand his immediate release.” A “Day of Silence for Fouad” was held on the blogosphere yesterday in which bloggers posted no articles and instead put up a banner on their sites calling for his release. Under Saudi law, the authorities may hold someone for questioning for six months. -------------------------------- 07.01 - Authorities confirm they are holding well-known blogger for "questioning" The Saudi interior ministry yesterday confirmed the authorities are holding Ahmad Fouad Al-Farhan, a blogger whose location had been unknown since his arrest on 10 December. Interior ministry spokesman Gen. Al-Turki said Farhan was being held for questioning but did not say where he was being held or exactly why he was being arrested. He nonetheless added that there was a good chance that Farhan would be released soon. --------------------------------- 27.12 - Saudi blogger held incommunicado for past two and a half weeks
Reporters Without Borders condemns the detention of blogger Ahmad Fouad Al-Farhan since 10 December. His family does not know where he is being held or what he is charged with. He said on his blog a few days before his arrest that he was expecting a summons from the interior ministry.
“The reforms and the opening announced by King Abdallah Ibn Al-Saud have yet to have any impact on the lives of Saudis, including those who openly express their disagreement with government policies,” the press freedom organisation said. “After blocking the news website Elaph and the leading blog publishing service www.blogger.com, the authorities have now directly targeted a blogger for the first time. We call on the police to immediately reveal where and why Farhan is being held.”
Aged 32 and a resident of Jeddah, Farhan was arrested at his workplace by police who first took him home to collect his laptop computer and then took him to an unknown location, the Arab Network for Human Rights Information said. His family still does not know where he is.
A note that he wrote a few days before his arrest has been posted on his website by a support committee. “I was told that there is an official order from a high-ranking official in the ministry of the interior to investigate me,” he wrote. “They will pick me up any time in the next two weeks (...) 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 I did is write some pieces and put side banners and ask other bloggers to do the same.”
The Saudi government's official Internet blacklist affects more than 400,000 websites, ranging from the sites of political organisations to those of unrecognised Islamist movements and porn sites.
Saudi Arabia is on the Reporters Without Borders list of “13 Internet enemies” and was ranked 148th out of 169 countries in the Reporters Without Borders world press freedom index that was published in October.