Reporters Without Borders asked in a letter to the Saudi Consultative Council (Majlis Al-Shoura) for the immediate release of the ismaeli journalist Saleh Al-Harith jailed since April 2000.
In a letter to the Saudi Consultative Council (Majlis Al-Shoura), Reporters Without Borders has asked for the immediate release of the journalist Saleh Al-Harith, aged 34, arrested in April 2000 in Nijran and today detained in the east of the country in the prison in Dammam. 'This journalist has been unfairly jailed for nearly three years', wrote Robert Ménard, secretary-general of the organisation. 'His only fault is that he informed a foreign media outlet of certain exactions committed by the Saudi authorities. For the first time an international organisation defending human rights, Human Rights Watch, has been authorised to carry out an investigation in the country. It's time for the Saudi authorities to show their sincere commitment to human rights.' Confrontations in April 2000 between members of the Ismaeli minority and the police had left one dead and several injured policemen. The journalist Saleh Al-Harith, working for the Saudi newspaper Al-Yaum, had contacted the TV channel Al-Jazira by phone on 23 April 2000 to report the police attack on the Al-Mansoorah mosque in Nijran. Of Ismaeli faith, he is believed to have been arrested at the end of April 2000 and condemned to seven years imprisonment. Ismaelis, a Chiite minority persecuted by the Wahhabite authorities of the kingdom, form a large community in the city of Nijran. There are no official statistics on their number in Saudi Arabia. According to diplomats, there are several tens of thousands, most of whom live in the mountainous regions of the south-west.