Monday, January 7, 2008
Petition to be launched over Saudi blogger arrest
Reporters without Borders plans to launch a petition this week calling for the release Saudi blogger Ahmad Fouad Al-Farhan, the press freedom advocate group told on Sunday.
Clothilde Le Coz, head of the internet freedom desk at Reporters without Borders, said the group also planned to write to the minister of interior over Al-Farhans's imprisonment.
Authorities in Saudi Arabia arrested the popular 32-year-old blogger on December 10 for violating “non-security regulations", but his detention was not made public until last Tuesday.
Al-Farhan’s blog - Searching for freedom, dignity, justice, equality, shoura and all the rest of lost Islamic values - has posted a letter, allegedly from Al-Farhan, which states he believes he was arrested because he “wrote about political prisoners in Saudi Arabia”.
Reporters without Borders has condemned Al-Farhan detention, which is believed to be the first arrest of an online critic in the kingdom.
"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 group said in a statement last week.
"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.”
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 2007.