Saudi Blogger Still In Government Detention
Fouad al-Farhan’s criticism of the Saudi government earned him an investigation by authorities, followed by his detention for questioning.
Saudi Arabia blocked some blogging services in the country, actions that preceded the arrest of Farhan in his Jeddah office on December 10th. Reporters Without Borders reported that, weeks later, Farhan was still being detained.
His current whereabouts, and reasons for the detention, have not been publicly disclosed by the Saudi Interior Ministry. RSF blasted the kingdom for failing to follow through with promised reforms and tolerance of dissenting views.
Farhan’s saga has bubbled up through the media, with the New York Times questioning his detention. A Saudi Interior Ministry spokesman, General Mansour al-Turki, told the Times he did not believe Farhan "will remain in detention long. They will get the information that they need from him and then they will let him go."
It’s been over three weeks since Farhan’s arrest, which happened on World Human Rights Day. Farhan’s blog contains a letter he wrote ahead of his arrest, predicting that would be imminent.
"The issue that caused all of 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 what I did is wrote some pieces and put side banners and asked other bloggers to do the same," he wrote.
"He asked me to comply with him and sign an apology. I’m not sure if I’m ready to do that. An apology for what? Apologizing because I said the government is liar when they accused those guys to be supporting terrorism?" Farhan continued.
At the Crooks and Liars blog, Nicole Belle said Farhan’s detention should concern people who don’t think "peaceful Muslims" speak out enough about terrorism committed in their name.
"Farhan was just such a voice, so it’s ironic that the Saudis are trying to silence him for not following their talking points," said Belle.