back to article Saudis cuff 'outspoken' blogger

The Saudi authorities have confirmed they are holding an "outspoken" blogger for "purposes of interrogation", the New York Times reports. Fouad al-Farhan, 32, was cuffed on 10 December at his offices in Jidda, apparently because he "wrote about the political prisoners here in Saudi Arabia", according to a letter posted on his …

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Unhappy

Careful what you say!

Just a warning to anyone thinking of posting here under your real name that might at some point want to work in Saudi Arabia, you will be surprised at how much grief a simple comment can get you when you apply for a work visa. A colleague got his visa rejected because of a letter to the Times that included his real name and address. You have been warned!

I really hope poor Fouad gets home in one whole piece soon. Hopefully this is just the regular police trying to put the frighteners on the bloggers and not the Mutawa'an thought police.

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Anonymous Coward

Happy We Made The News AGAIN but..

Some stuff lost in translation

- He said he was notified that he will be cuffed for questioning. This is a PR improvement here. Usually you are cuffed for interrogation with no warning. It's impressive that he got warned, and he got to blog about being warned.

- He has mentioned on his blog that he was also informed that he WILL most likely be asked to write something positive/apologize (i.e. not yet). He has NOT been taken in for refusing this request as your coverage seems to say. Although he has already blogged about his distaste for this potential request anyway.

- His blog has not been censored by the national internet censor (yes we have that). Which proves the local PR -> he's in for questioning and not necessarily for doing/not doing anything.

All in all, I'm happy this is getting so much coverage. Keep it up, but world+dog must understand that here on the ground the blogger has been dealt in what you Europeans would call with gentle gloves (hard as that may be to understand).

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Anonymous Coward

Classic quote

That's a beauty of a quote:

"He is not being jailed. He is being questioned, and I don’t believe he will remain in detention long. They will get the information that they need from him and then they will let him go."

So he's not in jail, but will not be in detention long. Mmmkay.

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shot themselves in the foot

I had never heard of this guys blog (no real surprise there), have now though and will probably have a glance at it later. So instead of keeping him quiet they have increased awareness and probably given him a bit of hero status in the bargin.

In the US they probably would have thrown him in a concentration camp and flooded the net with disinformation for anyone trying to check up :)

cheers

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Jag
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Not a problem..

I don't plan on going to this country because I don't agree with it's political thoughts, it oppression of free speakers or it's laws rejecting women as equals.

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Anonymous Coward

Home in one piece ?

Ah yes, the penchant for removing hands...

Posted anonymously, just in case I ever dare visit the camel-flea ridden hotbed of terrorist activity (in partnership with the USA).

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Coat

@Careful what you say!

My family lived in Saudi from 1982-2003. I heard the story of an ex-pat returning to Riyadh who, in conversation with another ex-pat, muttered, "Back to that sh*t-hole," or similar. Unfortunately, the comment was overheard by some over-zealous Saudi who reported him once they were back in Saudi. The ex-pat was put on the next plane home (hence the coat acquisition icon).

It can be a harsh place, but that's why they pay so much. Of course, that doesn't help someone who actually lives there permanently.

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Anonymous Coward

@ "Not a Problem"

Just thought, I'd let you know:

I have lived in numerous "Arab" countries and found, that apart from some cultural differences, they are no different to the "West".

I grew up in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Iraq, Jordan, UAE a.o.

The only difference is, the fact, that the corruption is a little bit more open.

The art that western politicians, and the likes have masterd, is hiding a lot of it from the public.

What we hear in the news about illegal deals, is just the tip of the tip (no, this is not a typo) of the iceberg.

After all: Politicians, Bankers, and Insurers are nothing but legalised Criminals!

Politicians are liars (And when they are caught they blame it on their PA, secretary or some other goon)

Bankers are thieves (even though it is illegal, they still try to charge the £25-£30 penalty for going £0.05 beyond they overdraft limit)

Insurers are fraudsters (with all sorts of flimsy clauses, which often are invalid, they try to avoid paying out, only, when you threaten them with a solicitor they budge).

I do want to mention, that there are some exceptions, but currently I can't think of any.

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Black Helicopters

Note to Jag...

Jag, are you describing the USA or Saudi Arabia?? (yes all three apply to both)!

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Anonymous Coward

I wish they'd do this in America

so all those deluded wankers going around complaining their free speech is being violated and The Man is suppressing them, would actually see what violation and suppression really are.

If so many folks are being suppressed, why are they still on the TV, internet and streetcorner for years? Is it some sort of reversed orwellian Newspeak, where noisiness is silence, where freedom is oppression? Because they're awfully loud for being "disappeared" around here! I keep waiting for the streetcorner "B.D.S. sufferers" to get that "rendition" they keep claiming happens but never seems to actually occur...

Chalk up yet another win for the ever-tolerant "Religion of Peace"!

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Paris Hilton

Transit

And be aware even if you are not visiting the country, but are in transit at their airport, nomal on a lot flights to and from Asia, you could be pulled from the plane, as you will not have diplomatic immunity.

The only one safe would be P Hilton

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Flame

@ Anonymous Coward ("I wish..")

Comments like that give me the creeps.

You're right that America has one of the best records for free speech worldwide (although the trickle of dissident speech drowns in a deluge of mainstream media pushing the party line), but the USA very definitely does have cosy relationships with countries that suppress free speech in the most violent and ugly ways. In many cases, the USA have been actively involved in installing and/or maintaining those regimes.

I'd say US citizens have plenty to shout about 'on street corners', and I dare say most of them are complaining about US complicity in human rights abuses in other countries. Maybe you've missed the point?

Extraordinary Rendition is 'fact' in the sense that Washington has admitted to it, so the idea that 'it never seems to happen' is ludicrous. What do you expect to see? Flayed KKP corpses on the sidewalk in Times Square?

For further information, check out Craig Murray's book 'Murder in Samarkand'. Murray was the British Ambassador to Uzbekistan, and discovered that the local dissidents were being tortured in the most ghastly way (as in "just tell us the names of your terrorist friends, and your son gets to keep one of his testicles").

The 'information' extracted from these desperate individuals - which can scarcely be relied upon for accuracy, given the circumstances of its extraction - is then sold directly to USA where it is 'operationally useful' in various propaganda campaigns. That's what's known as being 'an important ally in the war on terror'.

You don't get to hear about those particular victims, because:

A) they're dead already and

B) their stories somehow escape the attention of Fox News editors

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