Saudi official: why popular blogger Farhan was jailed
Fouad Farhan, arrested Dec. 10, was released Saturday after being held for more than four months without charges.
Riyadh, Saudi Arabia
A senior Saudi official for the first time today elaborated on why a popular Saudi blogger – released Saturday from detention – was held without charges for more than four months.
"We have ... what we call electronic crimes – any kind of violation related to computer and technology and so on," Interior Ministry spokesman Gen. Mansour Al Turki told the Monitor when asked why Fouad Farhan had been jailed.
"And I believe his main case was like violating personal rights.... Like when I go for example on the Internet or I go on any electronic media and I use your name and your personality and I criticize ... or offend you without being able to introduce evidence of what I'm saying."
Mr. Turki's comments were the first time that any Saudi official had gone beyond the vague official explanation that Mr. Farhan's detention stemmed from his alleged violation of rules unrelated to state security.
Farhan's Arabic-language blog, which has been shut down since early April, had become a must-read for many young Saudis. Like many bloggers in the country, Farhan took advantage of the expanding space for free speech under King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz to call for political reforms. His arrest on Dec. 10 – the first known one of a Saudi blogger – sent tremors throughout the nation's vibrant blogging community.