Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Media: Saudi authorities confirms arrest of popular blogger

The Saudi Interior Ministry says a popular Internet blogger who criticizes official corruption and advocates government reform has been detained by police for questioning.

The ministry confirmed the December 10 arrest of blogger Fouad al-Farhan, which was first reported last week on the Internet. A ministry spokesman said Farhan was detained in Jeddah for violating rules not related to state security. He did not elaborate.

The English language daily Arab News says authorities have not informed Farhan's family of any criminal charges against the writer. The report also says family members have not been allowed to visit the detainee.

Saudi media have not reported the arrest, which the Washington Post newspaper says has drawn the ire of more than 200 bloggers in the kingdom.

The Post reports that Farhan told a reporter last month he had been warned he could be detained because of his online support for a group of men arrested early last year and held without charge.

Saudi Arabia, an absolute monarchy, restricts press and speech freedoms and does not allow public political gatherings.

Published with the permission of Voice of America