The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) has called for the immediate release of journalist Tariq-al-Mubarak who expressed support for an end to the ban on women driving in Saudi Arabia.
According to media reports, on the afternoon of Sunday, October 27, the Saudi Arabian Interior Ministry's Criminal Investigation Department summoned al-Mubarak, a secondary school teacher and columnist for the London-based Arabic newspaper Asharq al-Awsat, to question him about his support for the driving campaign.
It has been reported that when al-Mubarak arrived at the Department, police took him into custody, and that he remains in detention without access to relatives or legal counsel.
"We demand the immediate release of the journalist Tariq-al-Mubarak who has been arrested for standing up for the human rights of women in Saudi Arabia," said IFJ President Jim Boumelha. "His arrest clearly undermines the right to press freedom and freedom of expression and calls into question the state's attitude towards its citizens' basic human rights."
According to reports, Al-Mubarak has actively supported the driving campaign. On October 6, he published a column in Asharq al-Awsat entitled "The Woman in the Gulf...Time for Change." The column criticized the driving ban, among other instances of discrimination against women.
"Saudi Arabia has a duty to adhere to its obligations according to international law," said IFJ General Secretary Beth Costa. "We call for authorities in the country to end this abuse of power and release with Tariq-al-Mubarak with immediate effect."