Poet jailed for criticizing judiciary

March 27, 2002

His Excellency Prince Nayef bin Abdul Aziz
C/o Ambassador Bandar bin Sultan bin Abdul Aziz
601 New Hampshire Avenue, NW
Washington, D.C. 20037

Via facsimile: (202) 944-5983

Your Excellency:
The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) is writing to protest the arrest of Saudi poet and journalist Abdel Mohsen Mosallam. We are also deeply concerned by Your Excellency’s order to dismiss the editor of the daily newspaper Al-Madina, Muhammad Mukhtar al-Fal.

Mosallam was detained on March 16 in Jeddah, six days after Al-Madina published a poem of his that strongly criticized the Saudi judiciary. It is unclear whether Mosallam has been charged with any offense. Two days later, according to press reports, Your Excellency ordered al-Fal’s dismissal, apparently because of Mosallam’s poem.

As a nonpartisan organization of journalists dedicated to defending press freedom worldwide, CPJ views these events as flagrant violations of the right to free expression, which is guaranteed under international law.

We call on Saudi authorities to release Mosallam immediately and to ensure that al-Fal may return to his job without further government interference.

Thank you for your attention to this urgent matter. We await your response.


Ann Cooper
Executive Director