Libyan Blogger Jailed

    November 4, 2005

Libya sent a political dissident blogger up the river for 18 months after criticizing the government on the Internet. The Human Rights Watch (HRW) reported this as they posted a letter from the blogger’s family requesting the release of the dissident.

Abdul Raziq al-Mansuri, 52, was convicted in Tripoli of illegal possession of a handgun. The charge landed him 18 months in prison. HRW claims this is a bogus charge.

“The gun charges are a ruse,” Middle Eastern director of the HRW Sarah Leah Whitson told the AP. “The authorities went after al-Mansuri because they did not like what he wrote.”

The AP article also described the gentleman’s crime:

Al-Mansuri, 52, was detained in Tobruk, his hometown, in January after publishing about 50 articles critical of Libyan society and government on a dissident Web site based in Britain, the rights group said Thursday.

Libyan government officials were not available for comment Friday as the country was celebrating the Eid al-Fitr holiday that follows the holy month of Ramadan.

The letter from his family states they will continue to the fight to free Al-Mansuri:

Therefore, we, the writer `Abd al-Raziq al-Mansuri’s family, will continue our son’s march, for he always wanted for everyone to eliminate fear. If he could not affect the closest people to him, his family, how could he affect others? We will begin, with our abilities, to write with freedom and leave the matter of the fraudulent charges of the Libyan state, knowing that we have been contacted, directly and indirectly, by the Libyan authorities (who are the reason for this problem) a while before sentencing to say that our son was not normal and we had refused. If defending the right to free speech and asking for basic human rights is insane in our country, then welcome to a family that is, from its oldest to its youngest, insane.

Blogging is one of the last great bastions of absolute free speech. But as al-Mansuri learned, nothing is truly free. The U.S. is working on dealing with blogs right now. A recent law that would’ve freed bloggers from the complex campaign finance rules recently failed to pass the House. It’s one more reason bloggers have to be allowed to say their piece.

John Stith is a staff writer for WebProNews covering technology and business.