US raises concerns with Saudi Arabia about detained popular blogger

The Bush administration has raised its concerns with Saudi Arabia about the detention of a popular blogger for violating the kingdom's laws, the State Department said Thursday. The diplomatic contact comes ahead of President George W. Bush's expected January 14 trip to Saudi Arabia, his first to the kingdom and part of a nine-day trip to the Mideast starting Jan. 8. State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said US diplomats raised with Saudi officials the detention of the blogger, Fouad al-Farhan, who was being questioned by Saudi officials. McCormack said the US message was that freedom of expression is "a cornerstone of any democratic society. And wherever people are seeking to express themselves, via the Internet or via other means, whether that's in Saudi Arabia or elsewhere around the world, we stand for that freedom of expression."