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Sun 24 Feb 2008 04:09 PM

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Jailed blogger in solitary confinement, family says

Saudi blogger Fouad Al Farhan held in solitary confinement since arrest in December

Saudi blogger Fouad Al Farhan is being kept in solitary confinement and subjected to daily questioning, members of his family said on Saturday.

Al Farhan's mother said Saudi authorities allowed her son to briefly telephone his family from Jeddah's Dahban Prison on 12th February, his first contact since his father-in-law was allowed a short visit on 5th January, reported Saudi daily Arab News.

Despite his on-going imprisonment, Al Farhan told his mother he was "all right, and that he was not being harassed", quoted the newspaper.

His family's requests for further visits have been denied, and it is unclear whether he has received access to legal assistance, Arab News said.

Al Farhan, a popular Saudi blogger, was arrested in Jeddah on 10th December, but has not been informed of the charges against him. His detention is believed to be the first arrest of an online critic in the kingdom.

The authorities are believed to be holding Al Farhan for his online criticism of government policies, including detentions without charge and trial of prisoners of conscience.

These criticisms include the government's ongoing detention of nine men arrested in February last year after calling for government reform.

Mansour Al Turki, spokesman for the Interior Ministry, said earlier this month that there was no update on the Al Farhan case other than his previous statement that he was being held for interrogation for Saudi blogger Fouad Al Farhan being held in solitary confinement since arrest in December .

Al-Farhan's blog - Searching for freedom, dignity, justice, equality, shoura and all the rest of lost Islamic values - has posted a letter, allegedly from Al Farhan, which states he believes he was arrested because he "wrote about political prisoners in Saudi Arabia".

His arrest and imprisonment has sparked the launch of several campaigns and appeals for his release by international and Saudi NGOs, including the Arabic Network for Human Rights, Reporters without Borders and the Committee to Protect Journalists.

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Ali Ahmed 12 years ago

Quote "His detention is believed to be the first arrest of an online critic in the kingdom. /Quote This is not the 1st detention of online critics. But it is the 1st to have such media coverage espcially the US. The reason I think for such coverage is that Fouad is not consider by the US media as that Fouad doesn't critisize the US policies in the region and not consider as an islamist; neither soft or hard liner