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Saudi blogger freed after 4 months in jail

Riyadh, April 27, 2008

A Saudi blogger detained without charge for more than four months after expressing pro-reform opinions has been released, a colleague said.

Fouad Farhan was detained in early December after running an online campaign over 10 men arrested since February 2007 on suspicion of financing militant groups, but whose supporters say they are being punished for pro-democracy activity.

'I spoke to him and he's in good spirits. He said he was treated really well,' said Ahmed al-Omran, who published the news on his website (www.saudijeans.org).

'It was surprising. After blocking his website, I thought his detention would go on longer. It's good news.'     

Saudi authorities blocked Farhan's website (www.alfarhan.org) earlier this month.

An Interior Ministry spokesman was unable to confirm Farhan's release. The ministry had declined to say on what charges he was arrested, but said it was not security related.

Saud Arabia, a key US ally, has no political parties or elected parliament, and many Web forums calling for reforms have been blocked by the government.

An Islamist preacher was detained for nearly two weeks in 2006 for an Internet article that criticised government ministers. - Reuters




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