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Qatar: A Blogger Detained, Incommunicado

In what appears to be Qatar's first known arrest of a blogger, Amnesty International has reported that Sultan Al-Khalifi, who blogs here, has been detained incommunicado since March 2. Today, Al Jazeera, which is partially owned by the Qatari government, also covered the story, referring readers to Amnesty's report.

Al Karama, an international organization focused on human rights in the Arab world and of which Al-Khalifi was formerly Secretary General, wrote of Al-Khalifi's arrest:

On 1 March 2011 at nine o'clock at night, a number of state security agents raided the house of Mr. Sultan Khalifa Al Khulaifi in Doha. After searching his house and car for two hours, he was taken to an unknown place by the State Security agents.

A female officer who was accompanying the agents informed the wife of Mr. Khulaifi that they were sent by the Attorney General, but without they were unable to produce any judicial warrant justifying the decision.

Alkarama fears that the arrest of Mr. Sultan Khalifa Al Khulaifi is as a result of his human rights activities. We were recently contacted by him regarding three cases of arbitrary detention in Qatar, which Alkarama has transmitted to the Qatari authorities in the hope that they will release them. The three names are the following: Abdullah Ghanem Mahfouz Muslim Jouar, Salim Hassan Khalifa Rashid Al Kuwari and Hamad Rashid Al-Marri.

Mr. Al Khulaifi served as Secretary-General of the Alkarama Foundation until the beginning of 2010, before leaving to found a new organization for the defense of human rights.

On Twitter, some have expressed what seems like surprise at Al Jazeera's coverage of the issue. @abuaardvark writes:

AJE on detained Qatari blogger | making a point of covering Qatar issues? http://is.gd/l5p98L

@mycloudno9 is impressed with Al Jazeera:

wow! That's fair! #Aljazeera, which is partly funded by Qatar reports blogger detained in Qatar http://bit.ly/habezu @AJELive

@Tripolitanian agrees:

AlJazeera has just achieved maximum fairness. They have recently criticized Qatar which gives them %60 of funding, for arresting blogger.

Though Qatar has not previously arrested any bloggers, the government does filter some websites, according to the OpenNet Initiative.

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