Saudi Arabia - Government urged to let detained blogger receive visits from lawyer

    MONTREAL, Feb. 8 /CNW Telbec/ - Reporters Without Borders condemns the
government's silence on the situation of blogger Fouad Al-Farhan, 32, who has
been in Jeddah prison since 10 December when he was arrested by interior
ministry officials over some of the entries in his blog.
    "We reiterate our call for the release of Farhan, who has been held
arbitrarily 'for questioning' for two months without any proper explanation
from the government," the press freedom organisation said. "We know nothing
about the conditions in which he is now being held. The various appeals from
human rights organisation and the protests on the international blogosphere
have been unsuccessful. We urge the authorities to respect Farhan's rights and
to allow visits by his family and a lawyer."
    There has been no answer to the letter which Reporters Without Borders
and the Arabic Network for Human Rights Information (HRinfo) sent to King
Abdallah ben Abdel Aziz Ibn Saud on 10 January asking why Farhan was being
held. Similarly, the Farhan family has had no reply to the letter it wrote in
December to the Saudi Arabia Human Rights Commission asking it to seek his
    Farhan's father-in-law was able to visit him on 5 January. He was then in
solitary confinement and was being questioned for 15 minutes a day. Since
then, all of the family's requests for visits have been turned down. Article
119 of the Saudi law of criminal procedure allows a judge to prevent a
detainee from speaking to any other detainee or from receiving any visit for
up to 60 days if this helps the investigation.
    One of the few Saudi bloggers not to use a pseudonym, Farhan is very well
known in the kingdom. A demonstration is due to be held outside the Saudi
embassy in Washington tomorrow, coinciding with the start of a week-long
Internet campaign entitled "We are all Fouads."
    Access to more than 400,000 websites hosted in Saudi Arabia and abroad
are currently blocked in the kingdom, especially sites specialising in human
rights and civil liberties. Censorship is defended in the name of the
protection of Islamic moral obligations.

    Sign the petition and call for his release :

For further information:

For further information: Katherine Borlongan, secretary general,
Reporters Without Borders, (514) 521-4111, Cell: (514) 258-4208, Fax: (514)

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