Detained Journalists Released From Jail

RIYADH, 3 December 2004 — Seven people including three journalists, who were detained while covering the opening of the trial of three Saudi activists, were released from police custody Thursday. Two of the nine arrested Wednesday are still in detention for further questioning, according to journalists, who were allowed to leave Deira Police Station in Riyadh today after producing letters of introduction from their companies.

A local journalist, who was also detained and later released by the police told Arab News that they were picked up by the policemen for no apparent reason.

“Police Capt. Abdullah Al-Haidan asked me to furnish an introductory letter and then I was released after spending one night in jail,” one of the detainees said.

He added that all those detained were well-treated by the policemen, who also allowed them to make phone calls. Among those arrested were three journalists from local media — Abdullah Abdali Al-Jahiri, Bureau Chief of Al-Madinah newspaper; Shahid Ali Khan of Saudi Gazette and Abdul Monem, a photographer from Al-Bilad newspaper. There has been no official word so far from the authorities on the arrests.

Police arrested the journalists after they tried to attend the proceedings inside the courtroom. “Among those refused entry was a Canadian diplomat,” said Andrew Turner, spokesman of the Canadian Embassy here. Witnesses outside the court where Dr. Abdullah Al-Hamed, Dr. Matrouk Al-Faleh and poet Ali Al-Demaini are being tried, said that the trail, which started at 10.30 in the morning, was marred by protests from the friends and relatives of the activists.

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