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Saudi Arabia Detains Three More Bloggers – No Reasons for Arrest

Saudi Arabia Detains Three More Bloggers – No Reasons for Arrest
folder_openMiddle East... access_time2 years ago
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By Staff, CPJ

The Committee to Protect Journalists [CPJ] reported on Thursday urged Saudi authorities to immediately stop persecuting journalists and release those swept up in their recent detention campaign.

Saudi authorities arrested blogger Naif al-Hindas on April 4 or 5 and bloggers and columnists Ali al-Saffar and Redha al-Boori on April 9, according to a statement and Twitter posts by the London-based Saudi rights organization Al-Qst and a statement by the Beirut-based rights organization Gulf Center for Human Rights.

According to CPJ, Saudi authorities have not publicly stated any reasons for the arrests, which come as part of a larger wave of detentions since the beginning of April, which have included at least four other journalists. Al-Saffar and al-Boori have not published in recent years, and al-Hindas's blog has been dormant since 2018.

The Saudi embassy in Washington, D.C., did not respond to email requesting comment, CPJ reported.

"Saudi authorities seem intent on locking up any journalist who might potentially have something critical to say about the current leadership," CPJ Middle East and North Africa Program Coordinator Sherif Mansour said from Washington, D.C. "The kingdom's neighbors and partners must meet this flagrant display of contempt for international law and human rights with an appropriately strong response."

Al-Saffar and al-Boori are connected with Saudi writer Thumar al-Marzouqi, who was arrested on April 4. In 2015, al-Saffar published an article on “Israeli” ties to militant groups in Syria on al-Marzouqi's blog, and al-Boori uploaded an academic report on the same topic there. Both also wrote op-eds on regional security issues for Lebanese daily al-Akhbar in 2014, according to the newspaper's author pages. However, any examples of their work after 2015 were not available.

Al-Hindas wrote about philosophy, film, feminism, and other cultural and political topics, though, as of July 2018, none of his writings had been found.

Based on a most recent annual prison census by CPJ, Saudi Arabia held at least 16 journalists behind bars as of December 1, 2018. A recent report from The Guardian said that Saudi detainees, including at least four journalists, are subject to torture and abusive conditions.