Saudi Arabia: Amad Fouad Al-Farhan detained without charge

English PEN is seriously concerned about the detention of the internet writer Amad Fouad Al-Farhan, who has been held without charge since 10 December 2007. It is thought that he may be held for his writings which support political prisoners in Saudi Arabia.

According to PEN’s information, Al-Farhan, 32, was detained by Saudi security agents on 10 December 2007 at his small IT company in Jeddah. His laptop was also confiscated from his home. In an email sent to friends before his arrest, Al-Farhan stated that he had been questioned by the Saudi Interior Ministry who warned him that he would be ‘picked up in the coming two weeks’. In the same email, he speculated that this could be in connection to comments he recently made on his blog ( in support of a group of reformists who were arrested last year and are being held without charge or trial. At the top of Al-Farhan’s blog is the slogan: ‘Searching for freedom, dignity, justice, equality, public participation and the other lost Islamic values’.

Two weeks after his arrest, the Interior Ministry acknowledged Al-Farhan’s detention and it has now confirmed that he is being questioned for ‘violating non-security regulations’, although no details of the charges against him have been released.

Blogging has become increasingly popular in Saudi Arabia since 2005 and there are now at least 500 Saudi bloggers who write in either English or Arabic. Cyberspace has become the new battleground where liberals and conservatives confront one another. Blogs provide a space for young Saudis to express themselves in a new way in a hitherto closed society. Al-Farhan is the first blogger to be arrested in Saudi Arabia and an online campaign calling for his release has been launched by other bloggers in the country.

Please send appeals:

• Expressing serious concern about the arrest of internet writer Amad Fouad Al-Farhan, and seeking details of any charges against him;

• Seeking assurances of his well-being, and urging that he is granted full access to his basic rights, including visits from his family and lawyer;

• Calling for his immediate and unconditional release if detained in violation of Article 19 of the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Appeals to:

His Royal Highness Prince Naif bin Abdul Aziz
Ministry of the Interior
P.O.Box 2933
Airport Road
Riyadh 11134
Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
Fax: 966 1 403 1185
(Salutation: Dear Minister)

Crown Prince, Deputy Prime Minister and Commander of the National Guard
His Royal Highness Prince ‘Abdullah bin ‘Abdul ‘Aziz Al-Saud
Royal Court
Saudi Arabia
(Salutation: Your Highness)

It may be more effective, however, to send the above appeals via the Saudi representative in London:

Royal Embassy of Saudi Arabia
His Excellency HRH Prince Mohammed bin Nawaf bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud
30 Charles Street

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