Saudi blogger freed

"Godfather" of Saudi blogging, who'd been held without charge since mid-December, was warned about his activist bent before the Saudi government arrested him.

FreeFouad.com

A Saudi blogger was released Saturday after spending four months in prison without being charged, several news outlets reported.

The Saudi government had warned Fouad al-Farhan, who is 33, about his activist blogs before his arrest in mid-December. The government said at the time of his arrest that it was unrelated to state security, according to a Washington Post report. The next month, CNN reported, a ministry representative said Farhan had been arrested "because he violated the regulations of the kingdom."

Farhan's online support of a group of 10 men arrested last year apparently contributed to his arrest. The government says the men are terrorists, the Post reported, while their attorney says they are political activists who wanted to form a civil rights group.

Saudi Arabia is an absolute monarchy that restricts freedoms of the press, speech, and assembly.

Farhan told the Post on Saturday that he is happy to be free and was "fairly treated" in detention. He would not comment on anything specifically.

"I will be blogging soon," he told the Post.

Supporters of Farhan had set up a Free Fouad site, which included a petition appealing for his release. According to site, Farhan is the "godfather" of Saudi blogging. "He was among the first Saudis to blog under his real name and has been an outspoken voice for nonviolent reform," the site states.

The Saudi government, which had no comment on the release, blocked Farhan's Web site earlier this month, according to Reuters.

 

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