Saudi blogger gagged

Some bad news today for freedom of expression Saudi Arabia has confirmed the arrest of Fouad al-Farhan, one of the countrys most respected bloggers. Like many countries where the offline media is tightly controlled, blogging has really taken off in Saudi with over 600 bloggers writing both in Arabic and in English. Fouad al-Farhans blog stood out for its political content searching for freedom, dignity, justice, equality, public participation and other lost Islamic values was his byline and for the fact that he used his own name rather than a pen-name.

According to The Independent, the Saudi interior ministry said Farhan was being held for "interrogation for violating non-security regulations" (whatever that means). But in a letter written before he was detained, Farhan states that: "The issue that caused all of this is because I wrote about the political prisoners here in Saudi Arabia and they think I'm running an online campaign promoting their issue, referring to the detention of ten academics, accused of supporting terrorism, who campaigners in the country believe are being held because of their political activism.

Global Voices has some further links to his work and to comments from bloggers in the region here, plus a profile of Farhan here. Ill update the blog if there is any further comment from us here at Amnesty but you can find out more about the wider issue of Internet repression here.

Meanwhile another country renowned for its repression of Internet users, China, has announced changes to its policy in another area of human rights abuse, the death penalty. China will reportedly move away from executions by firing squad and instead use lethal injection. But will it honour its promises to improve human rights in the run-up to the Olympics, starting with efforts to reduce the number of executions from the shameful 8,000+ per year that is estimated at the moment? Join our Human Rights for China campaign here.

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Our blogs are written by Amnesty International staff, volunteers and other interested individuals, to encourage debate around human rights issues. They do not necessarily represent the views of Amnesty International.
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