Reporters Without Borders condemns the detention of Tariq al-Mubarak, a blogger and columnist who writes for the London-based Saudi newspaper Asharq al-Awsat. He has been held by the Criminal Investigation Department for the past four days.
Mubarak, who is also a second schoolteacher, has written opinion pieces on controversial subjects for the newspaper including one criticizing his country’s ban on women drivers.
Published in its print edition on 6 October, it was headlined “It’s Time to Change Women’s Place in the Arab World". In another column published on 26 October and entitled “When the mafia threatens…”, he criticized the reign of terror in Arab societies that prevents people from fully enjoying fundamental freedoms.
“We call on the Saudi authorities to release Mubarak immediately and unconditionally,” Reporters Without Borders said. “Journalists must be able to work and write about sensitive subjects without fear of being arrested or threatened.”
Mubarak was arrested on 27 October when he responded to a summons to CID headquarters for questioning about his articles and his support for the campaign for Saudi women to be allowed to drive. He was placed in custody as soon as he arrived without any specific charges being brought against him. He has been held ever since then without being able to see a lawyer.
Saudi Arabia is ranked 163rd out of 179 countries in the Reporters Without Borders press freedom index.