Your Royal Highness:
The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) condemns your government’s harassment of Wajeha al-Huwaider, who writes for the Arabic-language daily Al-Watan and the English-language daily Arab News.
CPJ sources confirmed that the Information Ministry issued directives in late August effectively barring al-Huwaider from publishing her work in Al-Watan and Arab News. This action comes in response to a column that al-Huwaider published in late May that discussed some Saudi citizens’ disillusionment with their country and the peoples’ tendency to look to the United States for solutions to problems.
Al-Huwaider is the latest of a number of journalists whom the government has barred from writing. In July, the Information Ministry banned Saudi writer Hussein Shobokshi from writing his weekly column in the newspaper Okaz, apparently because of an editorial that Shobokshi authored about such sensitive topics as the rights of women to drive and of citizens to vote.
Two months earlier, the government had removed Al Watan editor Jamal Khashoggi from his post because of the paper’s provocative editorial stance against Islamic militancy in Saudi Arabia in the wake of the May 12 suicide bombings in the capital, Riyadh, which killed more than two dozen people.
Last year, CPJ documented a number of other examples of editors and journalists who were forced to resign from their positions due to government pressure. CPJ has recently received multiple unconfirmed reports of other new cases.
As an independent organization of journalists dedicated to defending press freedom worldwide, CPJ respectfully urges you to ensure that Wajeha al-Huwaider and other Saudi journalists barred from their work are able to resume their professional duties immediately, and that Saudi officials cease all further forms of harassment of the media.
Thank you for your attention to these important matters. We await your response.
Ann K. Cooper,