International PEN welcomes the January 10, 2009 release of leading reformist and academic Professor Matrook Al-Faleh, who had been held without charge since May 19, 2008, apparently for his writings and activism in support of political prisoners in Saudi Arabia. He is said to be in good health.

Background Information

According to PEN’s information, Matrook al-Faleh, a professor of political science at King Saud University in Riyadh and one of Saudi Arabia’s leading reformists, was arrested on May 19, 2008, two days after issuing a statement criticizing conditions in Buraida Prison.  He was held incommunicado without charge or trial throughout his eight-month detention. He reportedly remains subject to a travel ban enforced before his latest arrest.

Previously, in March 2004, Professor Al-Faleh was among 12 reformers to be arrested after openly criticizing the slow pace of reform in the Kingdom. He was sentenced on May 15, 2005 to six years in prison, and was a main case of International PEN. He was amnestied on August 9, 2005.

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Thank you to all who sent appeals on his behalf.