Chron.com - 22/4/2006
Saudi authorities have released a journalist who had been detained for allegedly publishing articles contrary to the teachings of Islam, his lawyer said.
Rabbah al-Quwaiey, 24, a Saudi reporter for the Riyadh-based newspaper Shams, was released on Saturday after the intervention of a senior Saudi official on his behalf, his lawyer Abdul Rahman al-Lahem said Thursday. He did not disclose the name of the Saudi official.
Al-Quwaiey was arrested on April 3 after posting articles on the Internet that were allegedly in violation of Islamic teachings. Al-Lahem said the case file was "closed." He did not provide further details.
Saudi officials, requesting anonymity because of the sensitive nature of the case, said al-Quwaiey has been banned from leaving the kingdom for an unspecified period.
The Saudi government has imposed travel bans on dozens of writers and intellectuals it considers dissidents.
Last week, the New York-based Human Rights Watch condemned the arrest of al-Quwaiey and called for his release. The group also urged Saudi Arabia's minister for human rights to open a public inquiry into the role of the kingdom's security and intelligence services in al-Quwaiey's arrest.
Human Rights Watch said al-Quwaiey had received death threats last year after he wrote articles alleging that the kingdom's strict interpretation of Islam was contributing to the growth of al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula.
In November, the group said, the governor of the northern Hail province ordered police to investigate the threats against al-Quwaiey after a newspaper reported that assailants had smashed the reporter's car and left a note saying, "Next time, it's you."
Intelligence police arrested al-Quwaiey, instead, after luring him to Hail by asking him to fill out paperwork related to the investigation into the threats.
Shams tabloid has been popular with Saudi youth since it hit the stands in December because of its bold reporting on social and economic issues. In February, authorities closed it after it republished three of 12 controversial cartoons of Islam's Prophet Muhammad originally published in Denmark. The tabloid resumed publishing last month.