Fouad Al-Farhan was released early this morning and he is spending a warm and good time with his family. Most of bloggers in Saudi Arabia reacted happily after getting the good news from blogs of Fouad’s friends.

Source: Mashi 97 Blog


Someone at CITC has decided to go on a blocking spree this morning and went to ban access to the alfarhan.org, freefouad.com and Horyiat blog. After detaining Fouad Al Farhan for more than 100 days because he spoke his mind, now they are trying to stop people from reading his ideas. Pathetic.

The authorities are yet to reveal the reasons for the detention, and a spokesman for MOI told CNN Arabic last week there was on update on the case. The blockage is indicative of the mentality behind the detention and it also a sing that it will last even longer.

They are wrong if they think the blockage will stop people from getting information about this case and all violations on human rights here. They are wrong if they think the blockage will stop us from raising Fouad’s issue over and over again until he is free and back to his family and friends. We know how to get around your stupid censorship, and if you block two or three blogs we can launch hundreds of new blogs.

P.S. You can still follow the Free Fouad campaign here: English, Arabic.

Source: Saudi Jeans

Three months in Jail

90 days after her father was detained for blogging, nine-year-old Raghad Al-Farhan sends a message to her father she has not seen since.
Fouad Al-Farhan remains in detention for refusing to apologize for his writings critical of corruption and lack of freedom Saudi Arabia, where he hopes meaningful reform will enable his children have a better life.

Please take a moment to support for Mideast reformers, and help Raghad get her father back, by signing a petition for his release.

Phone Call from Fouad

Detained Saudi blogger Fouad al-Farhan has been allowed to make a phone call to his wife yesterday, FreeFouad.com reported. His wife said Fouad told her that he is in a good shape and his morale is high. He said he is hoping that authorities would soon allow others to visit him in jail. The website also said that Fouad would like to thank all those who supported him and his family during these tough times.

Source: Saudi Jeans Blog

By Nic Robertson and Wayne Drash

RIYADH, Saudi Arabia (CNN) — A top Saudi blogger who was jailed late last year remains in prison more than two months later for unspecified, non-security matters — and there are few signs that he will be freed anytime soon.

Web sites like this one are pushing for Fouad al-Farhan’s freedom.

The Saudi government has been extremely quiet about the detention of Fouad al-Farhan, a 32-year-old father of two who has become a rallying cry for bloggers.

Al-Farhan — known on the Internet as the “Dean of Saudi Bloggers” — was arrested on December 10 shortly after one of his blog entries was critical of influential Saudi religious, business and media figures.

“He is still being investigated,” Maj. Gen. Mansour al-Turki, a spokesman for the Interior Ministry, told CNN this week.

Al-Farhan has yet to be charged with a crime, but under Saudi law can be held without charges for six months.

He has only had one visit since being jailed when he told his father-in-law he was being held in solitary confinement, according to Ebtihal Mubarak, an Arab News journalist who has been in close contact with his family.

Fellow Saudi blogger Ahmed al-Omran has been leading the charge in Saudi Arabia to free him. He says more than 1,000 people are now campaigning inside and outside the Saudi kingdom for al-Farhan’s freedom.

“His case is not related to the government, is not related to the Ministry of Interior or to the police or to the security situation,” al-Omran says, referring to comments by Saudi authorities in a CNN report in January. “So if that’s the case, why is he still being held? Why has he not been charged?”

Several “Free Fouad” Web sites have popped up online and a group with the same name boasts more than 900 members on the popular online social networking site, Facebook.

“Free Fouad or charge him,” one message posted by a man named Fareed Hadeed in Saudi Arabia says on the Facebook page.

Joel Campagna, the Mideast program coordinator for the U.S.-based Committee to Protect Journalists, says his organization hasn’t seen any positive signs from the kingdom about al-Farhan’s possible release. CPJ has lobbied King Abdullah and the Bush administration on al-Farhan’s behalf.

“To hold a blogger for over two months in secrecy is shameful and I think it’s a fresh reminder of the shoddy state of media freedom in Saudi Arabia,” Campagna says.

Saudi authorities in recent months, he says, have rolled back “modest gains” in the media that were welcomed inside and outside Saudi Arabia as giving much-needed hope to the rapidly growing young population. He says it undermines King Abdullah’s public statements about being committed to gradual reform. Video Watch one woman’s fight for Saudi journalism »

“I think it shows that this is just empty talk,” Campagna says. “We’re very concerned. Fouad al-Farhan should be released immediately.”

Al-Omran says the case has had a wide influence on his fellow bloggers. He says some have quit, while others have “become more careful.”

Still others, he says, “say they can’t be silenced.”

How has it affected him?

“My family worries about me and I am concerned, but you have to do what you can do,” al-Omran says.

The Saudi Human Rights Commission has been trying to get access to visit him, but so far has not been allowed.

Al-Farhan has been held for almost 80 days. Under Saudi law, he cannot be held in solitary confinement for more than 60 days. It’s not immediately clear if Saudi authorities have abided by that law.

A recent report by Arab News’ Mubarak said al-Farhan was allowed to make a phone call home on February 12. The report quoted his wife as saying, “He talked to his mother briefly over the phone assuring her that he is all right and that he is not being harassed.”

Early last month, the U.S. State Department said it had brought its concerns about the detention to the Saudi government at a “relatively senior level.” At the time, State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said the message was “pretty clear.”

According to the CPJ, al-Farhan sent an e-mail to friends just before he was arrested, saying he thought he was being taken into custody because “I wrote about the political prisoners here in Saudi Arabia and they think I’m running an online campaign promoting their issue.”

His blog’s slogan is: “Searching for freedom, dignity, justice, equality, public participation, and all the rest of lost Islamic values, and for Raghad and Khetab” — a reference to his two children.

source: CNN

When President Bush came to Saudi Arabia a month ago it raised hopes that jailed Saudi blogger Fuad Al-Farhan would be released.

By then the 30-year-old businessman had been locked up without charge for more than 30 days. Only his father had been able to visit him. He said Al-Farhan had lost weight.


Courtesy alfarhan.org


 I was here at that time and interviewed blogger Ahmed Al-Omran who was spearheading a campaign to get Al-Farhan freed. He told me Farhan was doing no more than exercising his right to free speech.

Government officials told me they hoped he would be freed soon, something that would be speeded if he cooperated with authorities they said.

Now, two months after Al-Fahan’s arrest, I am back in Saudi Arabia and I’m learning very little appears to have changed. Al-Farhan is still in detention.

I am surprised because when I left a month ago the balance of feedback I had from official and non-official sources was that this probably wouldn’t last much longer, he’d be freed fairly soon.

For sure no one said it would happen, but they let me feel it might, and soon, once the outcry, particularly in the western media had died down.

Now it appears perhaps it really was just that, spin to kill off the outcry.

Ahmed Al-Omran told me the campaign to release Al-Farhan is still active, they are frustrated he said because despite repeated calls to the Ministry of interior they say they stil don’t know why Al-Farhan is being held.

What the campaign wants, Al-Omran says, “is a clear statement of why Al-Farhan is being held.” He also says the government is obliged to answer Human Rights groups who have been asking the same question.

What concerns Al-Farhan’s supporters the most right now is that as far they know he hasn’t been allowed to see a lawyer.

The only vaguely positive note they can report is that Al-Farhan’s mother in law was able to call him by phone a few days ago. They are not clear what was said during that 10 minute exchange. His health remains a major concern for his wife and two children.

By law the government can hold Farhan for 6 months without charge. His friends haven’t given up hope he’ll be free long before then.


Source: The Inside the Middle East Blog

Ebtihal Mubarak, Arab News

JEDDAH — The family members of the detained Saudi blogger Fouad Al-Farhan said yesterday that although Saudi authorities allowed Al-Farhan for the first time to make a telephone call from Jeddah’s Dahban Prison on Feb. 12 they would still like to continue to visit him.

Prior to the telephone call, the 32-year-old Saudi father of two has only been seen once by his father-in-law during a brief visit on Jan. 5. Al-Farhan told him that he was being kept in solitary confinement and subjected to questioning for 15 minutes a day. He has also not been informed of the charges against him. The family’s requests for further visits have so far been denied.

Speaking about Al-Farhan’s telephone call on Feb. 12, his wife told Arab News, “He talked to his mother briefly over the phone assuring her that he is all right and that he is not being harassed.” She added that he initially called home and that she was out with their children and so he telephoned his elderly mother, who lives in Taif.

She said although her husband spoke to his mother on the phone, they were still unaware of whether he was facing charges, whether he was still in solitary confinement and whether he had been given the right to legal access.

“Since he was talking to his mother for less than 10 minutes for the first time in more than two months, she was mainly concerned about his health. You know how mothers are,” she said.

Maj. Gen. Mansour Al-Turki, spokesman for the Interior Ministry, told Arab News earlier this month that there is no update on the Al-Farhan case other than the ministry’s previous statement that the blogger was being held for “interrogation for violating non-security regulations.”

Al-Turki would not clarify exactly why Al-Farhan was being held and whether it was in connection with his blog http://www.alfarhan.org. Al-Turki was unavailable for comment yesterday.

“Since his arrest, I rarely leave home hoping he might call. That Tuesday I had to leave to buy some things for the children,” said Al-Farhan’s wife, who has not seen her husband since Dec. 10 after officials — following his arrest at his office the same day — brought him home to search his belongings. “I was in one of the rooms with my children accompanied by women officers when they searched the house,” she added.

Saleh Al-Kathlan, head of the Monitoring and Follow-Up Committee at the National Society of Human Rights (NSHR) in Riyadh, said that the NSHR had sent a second letter to the Interior Ministry last week inquiring about Al-Farhan.

Al-Khathlan said the letter mentioned the issue of allowing Al-Farhan’s family to visit him. “According to Saudi Criminal Law detainees should not be denied visits after more than 60 days. They also have the right to see a lawyer for advice,” he added. In five days’ time, Al-Farhan will have been in prison for 80 days.

Article 119 of Saudi Criminal Law states that “the investigator shall order that the accused may not communicate with any other prisoner or detainee, and that he not be visited by anyone for a period not exceeding 60 days if the interest of the investigation so requires, without prejudice to the right of the accused to communicate with his representative or attorney.”

This is the second letter the NSHR has sent to the Interior Ministry regarding Al-Farhan’s case. “So far we have not received a response. But we will keep on following up the case,” said Al-Khathlan.

Hussein Al-Sharif, head of the NSHR’s Western Region office and a professor of law at King Abdul Aziz University in Jeddah, told Arab News earlier that the General Investigation and Prosecution Board (the Saudi equivalent of an attorney general’s office) is allowed to legally detain people for up to six months.

After six months, detainees are either freed after investigation is done or presented in a court for trial if they are charged. Al-Farhan can be thus detained for another three months.

His wife said she was perplexed how to answer her children’s queries about their missing father. She told Arab News that her youngest child Khetab, who is only 5 years old, shocked her the other day when he said that his father was not traveling but in prison. “I’ve tried to keep disturbing news away from them. However, after more than two months the kids miss their father dearly,” she said.

Last Tuesday she remained all day at home beside the phone. “I thought to myself maybe phone calls are only allowed on that particular day. But he didn’t call last week,” she said.

Al-Farhan’s blog leads with the slogan: “Searching for freedom, dignity, justice, equality, public participation (shoura), and all the rest of lost Islamic values, and for Raghad and Khetab” (Farhan’s two children).

Al-Farhan is considered in the Saudi blogosphere as being the “Dean of Saudi Bloggers” for blogging under his real name. http://www.alfarhan.org has tackled social issues in the Kingdom, condemned terrorism and called for “open” and “real” dialogue within the Kingdom.

source: Arab News