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Blogger arrested after posting opinions, announcing his conversion to Christianity

(ANHRI/IFEX) - According to information obtained by ANRHI, Saudi authorities detained Hamoud Bin Saleh on 13 January 2009 and blocked his blog, Masihi Saudi - , due to his opinions and the announcement on his blog that he had converted from Islam to Christianity.

Based on information obtained by ANHRI, the Saudi authorities jailed the young blogger at the infamous Eleisha political prison in Riyadh, a prison which in 2004 witnessed the arrest of the reformists Matrouk el Falih, Ali el Domini and Eissa al Hamed.

The 28-year-old alumnus of the al Yarmouk University in Jordan has been arrested twice before, for nine months in 2004 and in November 2008. Hamoud Bin Saleh must be set free, especially given that Saudi Arabia sponsored an interfaith dialog conference in New York in November and because the blogger's arrest may tarnish the country's image and expose the Saudi government's false allegations. The interfaith conference was attended by representatives of 80 countries.

Hamoud Bin Saleh's re-arrest on 13 January has raised fears for his life because the attention of the world is focused on the violence taking place in Gaza and the Saudi authorities could seize the opportunity to make an example of the blogger while nobody is watching.

ANHRI said the young man has committed no crime and that the only thing he has done is to exercise his right to express his opinions and beliefs. These rights must not be violated under any pretext.

ANHRI condemns Saleh's arrest and holds the Saudi government fully responsible for his safety. It also demands his immediate release and calls on the Saudi government to meet its commitments and apply what has been said in the Saudi king's statements about respect for freedom of expression and religious tolerance.

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