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April 28, 2008


UPDATE: April 23, 2008 - Fouad is free and back home in Jeddah after 137 days in custody. (more here) Bismillah Assalamu Alaikum! I'm writing today to ask you to SPREAD THE WORD! FREE FOUAD!! You can help free Saudi blogger Fouad Ahmad al-Farhan, who has been detained by Saudi authorities since December 10, 2008, by displaying this Quote Randomizer Badge on your blog! The quotes are translated from his blog post "Why Do We Blog?" The badge will allow the script to display random Fouad's quotes on your blog. CLICK ON THE BADGE BELOW (right) TO GET THE CODE! Aishah's Journey Blog is wearing the Badge! Please redistribute this communication widely, insha'Allah! Jazakallahu khayran for your support! Ma'Salaama, `Aishah Schwartz Director, Muslimah Writers Alliance Member, Committee to Protect Journalists LEARN MORE HERE! How Free is the Blog-o-Sphere? Family Member Given Access to Detained Blogger U.S. Concerned for Saudi Blogger Dissident Saudi Blogger Arrested Committee to Protect Journalists Fax or mail a copy of the letter (below) (or write your own letter) in support of the Committe to Protect Journalists' petition TODAY! January 2, 2008 Via Facsimile: (202) 944-3113 His Royal Highness King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud c/o His Excellency Ambassador Adel Al-Jubeir Royal Embassy of Saudi Arabia 601 New Hampshire Avenue, N.W. Washington, D.C. 20037 Re: Fouad Ahmed al-Farhan Your Royal Highness: The Committee to Protect Journalists is writing to protest the continued detention of Fouad Ahmed al-Farhan, a leading Saudi blogger who has been held without charge since early December 2007. We believe al-Farhan is being held for comments published on his Web site, On December 10, Saudi security agents detained al-Farhan at the Jeddah office of the IT company he owns. Security agents later visited his home and confiscated his laptop. This week, nearly a month after al-Farhan’s detention, Saudi Arabia’s Interior Ministry at last acknowledged that he has been detained, but would not give the reason for his incarceration. Ministry spokesman Gen. Mansour al-Turki was quoted by several newspapers as saying that al-Farhan was being questioned "about violating non-security regulations" but would not elaborate. Calls from CPJ to the Saudi Embassy in Washington were not returned. In an e-mail sent to friends prior to his arrest, al-Farhan explained that he had received a phone call from the Saudi Interior Ministry instructing him to prepare himself "to be picked up in the coming two weeks" for questioning by a high-ranking official. He also stated in the e-mail that he believed he was being summoned "because I wrote about the political prisoners here in Saudi Arabia and they think I’m running an online campaign promoting their issue." In one of his last posts before his detention, al-Farhan sharply criticized 10 influential Saudi business, religious, and media figures. Your Royal Highness, we find it deplorable that Saudi authorities would continue to hold our colleague in near secrecy after nearly a month. Arbitrarily detaining a writer and holding him for weeks without saying why violates the most basic norms for free expression and serves as a chilling reminder to those seeking to express their opinions. It also runs counter to official Saudi statements in support of reform and a more open press. During meetings with CPJ representatives in Riyadh in 2006, Saudi officials affirmed the country’s commitment to gradual reforms and praised the recent loosening of restrictions on the local press. We urge you to use all your influence to ensure that our colleague Fouad al-Farhan is released at once. Thank you for your attention to this important matter and we look forward to your reply. Sincerely yours, Joel Simon Executive Director CC: His Royal Highness Prince Sultan Bin Abdelaziz Al-Saud, Crown Prince and Minister of Defense His Royal Highness Prince Nayef Bin Abdelaziz Al-Saud, Minister of Interior The Honorable Ford M. Fraker, U.S. Ambassador to Saudi Arabia Louise Arbour, U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights American Society of Newspaper Editors Amnesty International Article 19 (United Kingdom) Canadian Journalists for Free Expression Freedom Forum Freedom House Human Rights Watch Index on Censorship International Center for Journalists International Federation of Journalists International PEN International Press Institute The Newspaper Guild The North American Broadcasters Association Overseas Press Club Reporters Sans Frontières The Society of Professional Journalists World Association of Newspapers World Press Freedom Committee