February 1, 2008

Minister of the Interior
His Royal Highness Prince Naif Bin Abdul Aziz
Ministry of the Interior
P.O. Box 2933, Airport Road
Riyadh 11134
Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
Fax: + 966 1 403 1185

Your Excellency,

On behalf of the 3,400 members of PEN American Center, an international organization of writers dedicated to protecting freedom of expression wherever it is threatened, we are writing to express our grave concern regarding the detention of internet writer Amad Fouad Al-Farhan.

According to our information, Al-Farhan was detained by Saudi security agents on December 10, 2007, at his place of work in Jeddah. His laptop was confiscated from his home.  Al-Farhan may be held for his online comments in support of political prisoners detained in the kingdom. He had reportedly been warned by the Saudi Interior Ministry that he would be “picked up in the coming two weeks” and questioned. Although the Interior Ministry has now acknowledged Al-Farhan’s detention, it has not given any details of the charges against him.

PEN American Center believes Amad Fouad Al-Farhan may have been detained in violation of his right to free expression as guaranteed by Article 19 of the Universal Declaration on Human Rights. We ask you to ensure that he is granted full access to his basic rights, including family visits and his lawyer, and respectfully ask for his immediate and unconditional release. 

Thank you for your attention.

Hannah Pakula                  
Chair, Freedom to Write Committee   

Larry Siems
Director, Freedom to Write and International Programs

CC: Ambassador Adil al-Ahmad al-JUBAYR
601 New Hampshire Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20037
Fax: (202) 944-3113

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