I was in Jeddah when Fouad was released, but unfortunately I could not meet him then because I had to leave the next day. Last night he paid a visit to Riyadh, and fellow blogger Sami Omar hosted a dinner in his honor in Shurfa Restaurant. We were also joined by Jihad, Herbaz, Medical Practitioner and Mohammed al-Saleh. Needless to say, we had a great time. It was really good to see him after this long time and I hope we will have a chance to get together again soon inshallah. There is only so much you can say in five hours :-)
I received a copy from the letter sent by Fouad to his friends a few days before his arrest. This letter provides some details on the reasons behind his arrest. Here’s the text of the letter:
I was told that there is an official order from a high-ranking official in the Ministry of the Interior to investigate me. They will pick me up anytime in the next 2 weeks.
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 a online campaign promoting their issue. All what I did is wrote some pieces and put side banners and asked other bloggers to do the same.
He asked me to comply with him and sign an apology. I’m not sure if I’m ready to do that. An apology for what? Apologizing because I said the government is liar when they accused those guys to be supporting terrorism?
To expect the worst which is to be jailed for 3 days till we write good feedback about you and let u go. There may be no jial and only apologizing letter. But, if it’s more than three days, it should be out. I don’t want to be forgotten in jail.
Don’t worry Fouad, we are here for you and we will do our best until you’re free and back to your family and friends. We will not forget you.
Fouad Al Farhan, a leading Saudi blogger, has been arrested in Jeddah about two weeks ago. The reasons behind the detention of Al Farhan remain unclear, but it is known that he had to shut down his blog previously after being harassed by some authorities. He remained on hiatus for a few months, but he decided later to come back and continue blogging because he believes that freedom, justice and equality are values worth fighting for. I have met Fouad a couple of times and I have interviewed him for Global Voices.
Fellow bloggers and friends are launching a campaign to release Fouad. More details about the campaign and what you can do to support him can be found here.
I hope that Fouad would be released soon to come back to his family and friends. This country needs more people like him, people who love their country and want to see it thrive and advance.