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Last Updated: Saturday, 17 April, 2004, 21:26 GMT 22:26 UK
Saudis arrest religious reformist
Saudi police
Saudi security officers arrested Mr Zaeer in the capital, Riyadh
Police in Saudi Arabia have arrested an advocate of religious reform, two days after he appeared on the Arab television station, al-Jazeera.

Officers arrested Saeed bin Mubarak al-Zaeer, 57, in Riyadh. He was released a year ago after spending eight years in prison without charge.

A family member told the BBC he thought the authorities had used the TV appearance as a pretext for his arrest.

Last month Saudi Arabia detained activists calling for political reform.

'Dangerous views'

Mr Zaeer is an academic in mass communications and a religious reformist who has called for greater transparency within the closely state-monitored Saudi clergy.

Two days earlier, al-Jazeera interviewed him about an audio tape purportedly released by Osama Bin Laden, in which he offered European nations a truce if they withdrew their troops from Muslim countries.

"He justified terrorist attacks and the killing of policemen and then aired these provocative and dangerous views on television," an interior ministry official told Reuters.

Mr Zaeer's son denied his father had backed militant attacks during the television talk show.

The official said Mr Zaeer would probably be charged and prosecuted for instigating violence.

Saudi Arabia is fighting a wave of violence believed to be linked to Bin Laden's al-Qaeda network.

On Wednesday, at least one member of the Saudi security forces was killed and another wounded when gunmen attacked their patrol north of Riyadh.

A day earlier, suspected Muslim militants killed four Saudi policemen in separate incidents north of the capital.

The US government has issued a travel warning advising US citizens to leave Saudi Arabia.




SEE ALSO:
US citizens urged to leave Saudi
15 Apr 04  |  Middle East
Saudi 'militants' kill 4 police
13 Apr 04  |  Middle East
Saudis 'arrest five reformists'
16 Mar 04  |  Middle East
Country profile: Saudi Arabia
16 Nov 03  |  Country profiles
Timeline: Saudi Arabia
02 Dec 03  |  Country profiles


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