Jan 4, 2008

Where Are New Zealand's Statements In Support Of Saudi Blogger?

Saudi Arabia's equivalent of David Farrar, its best known blogger, has been arrested for raising concerns about human rights in the country. Fouad al-Farhan, 32, was arrested December 10 "because he violated the regulations of the kingdom," a spokesman for the Interior Ministry told CNN Wednesday. In an e-mail posted on his Web site since his arrest, however, al-Farhan told friends that he faced arrest for his support of 10 reform advocates the Saudi government accuses of supporting terrorism.

The US Government has criticised the arrest and made its concerns known at the highest levels in Saudi Arabia. The US says that "the US stands for the freedom of expression".

Until recently we thought New Zealand also believed in freedom of expression. New Zealand also doesn't normally hold back when Saudi Arabia oversteps the mark. Even when we are in the middle of free trade negotiations with Saudi Arabia and the other members of the Gulf Cooperation Council. So why doesn't New Zealand say something about Fouad al-Farham?? We have checked the Beehive website, Winston Peters' Beehive page, MFAT's homepage, and Scoop, but find nothing. The Hive team hopes that New Zealand attitudes to freedom of expression abroad have not changed as a result of the Electoral Finance Act coming into force.