Thursday, January 03, 2008

 

"First" of the Day: Saudi blogger arrested

Saudi Arabia's most popular blogger, Fouad al-Farhan, has been detained for questioning, an Interior Ministry spokesman confirmed Monday. It was the first known arrest of an online critic in the kingdom. —Faiza Saleh Ambah reporting in "Dissident Saudi Blogger Is Arrested"

Al-Farhan was actually arrested almost a month ago. The Saudi authorities are only now getting around to acknowledging the arrest. The Saudi blogger's arrest was preceded by arrests of bloggers in Bahrain, Kuwait and Egypt.

The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) sent a letter of protest yesterday to His Royal Highness al-Saud—

Arbitrarily detaining a writer and holding him for weeks without saying why violates the most basic norms for free expression and serves as a chilling reminder to those seeking to express their opinions. It also runs counter to official Saudi statements in support of reform and a more open press.

Most Americans—including journalists so-called—are unaware that Saudi Arabia and other Arab governments are in fact complying with what George Bush asked them to do in 2003. King al-Saud should have received a congratulatory cable from the U.S. State Department by now.

This is the sort of thing the Bush administration would like to see in the U.S. But so far it has had to content itself with arresting the U.S. press working in Iraq.

Of course there is a bit of irony to this story. While paid American journalists try to justify their paychecks by declaring bloggers to be a lesser form of life, and the U.S. government tries to sort out who is or isn't a journalist for purposes of First Amendment protection, the Saudis, along with the Committee to Protect Journalists, have no difficulty in identifying who the real journalists are.

Well, gotta go. Someone's knocking at the door.

Related posts
Why isn't the press defending freedom of the press? (6/16/04)
Why isn't the press defending freedom of the press? (Revisited) (6/21/04)
The Indymedia seizure and the media (10/12/04)
Can you imagine?—The Law of Opposites and the Law of Silence (4/17/05)
The silencing of an American journalist (7/08/05)
Outrage of the Day (11/27/07)

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