Reporters Without Borders hails yesterday’s release of three Web TV journalists – Firas Baqna, Khalid Al-Rasheed and Hussam Al-Darwish – who were held arbitrarily for two weeks, without being charged and without any reason being given, in what was clearly an attempt to intimidate them and get them to censor themselves.
Three online television journalists held by Saudi police
Reporters Without Borders condemns the arrest of Firas Baqna, Khalid al-Rasheed and Hussam al-Darwish, members of the production team of the Saudi Internet television series "Malub Aleyna".
The series, spread over several episodes, tackles subjects that receive little coverage in the traditional Saudi media, such as sex discrimination, inflation and the lives of young people in Riyadh.
The fourth episode, posted on YouTube on 10 October and entitled “The Poor”, reported on the living conditions of the poorest people in the Saudi capital.
According to the website of the Arabic Network for Human Rights Information
, the team were summoned to a police station for questioning after the broadcast was posted.
The three netizens are still in custody. The French news agency AFP reported that Saudi authorities suspected them of receiving financial help from the Al-Islah opposition movement.
In less than five days, more than 500000 people viewed the broadcast and the number continues to rise. The video is still accessible online.
Reporters Without Borders strongly deplores the attitude of the Saudi authorities and demands the immediate release of the "Malub Aleyna" team who have done the job of reporting on subjects that interest the public by tackling a an aspect of real life in Saudi Arabia.
Saudi Arabia is listed among the Internet Enemies in a report published by Reporters Without Borders on 12 March. Self-censorship is still often the rule for those working in the country’s news media.