KSA: Egyptian publisher participating in Riyadh Int’l Book Fair arrested and forcibly disappeared

Authorities in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) have arrested and forcibly disappeared the photographer and international book fairs director of Dar Kotopia, an Egyptian publishing house, Ahmed Diouf.

The We Record rights organization stated in a tweet that it documented that some Saudi security apparatus personnel arrested Ahmed Diouf on 8 October at around 3:00 p.m. from the Riyadh International Book Fair.

After his arrest, Mr. Diouf was taken to the hotel where he was staying, for inspection of the room and all its contents, and then taken he was taken to a detention facility affiliated with the State Security Apparatus, with no news about him since then, stated the rights organization.

According to We Record, the arrest and disappearance of Ahmed Diouf came after some Twitter accounts launched a campaign against him because of some old tweets expressing his personal views.

According to a close friend of Diouf, the Egyptian Embassy in Saudi Arabia does not know the Egyptian citizen’s whereabouts in Saudi Arabi; Or it does not want to disclose.

The We Record organization called on the Saudi authorities to release Diouf and finalize his travel procedures to Egypt. It also called on the Egyptian Ministry of Foreign Affairs to seriously intervene to end the crisis of Diouf’s detention.

Ahmed Diouf has lost contact with his family and friends since his detention, with an online hashtag calling for the disclosure of his whereabouts.

The Egyptian publisher was taking part in the Riyadh International Book Fair earlier this month but his whereabouts now remain unknown to his family and friends, according to Egyptian local reports.

On the last day of the Riyadh Book Fair, on 8 October, Ahmed Diouf was arrested by Saudi security services while participating as the co-founder and representative of Kotopia, an independent publishing house.

Ibrahim Ahmed Essa, the director of Kotopia, raised the issue of his arrest and disappearance in a Facebook post on 23 October, adding that everyone had previously avoided publishing anything about it for fear of repercussions against Diouf in a Saudi jail.

Essa said that Diouf was representing Egypt at the Riyadh International Book Fair and that he had informed the Publishers’ Association, the Egyptian embassy in Riyadh, the Egyptian Presidency, the Cabinet, and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs offices about his arrest.

“We also asked the fair management, and they did not have any information,” he wrote.

Essa added: “Until now, no official response has clarified where Ahmed is?! What is the reason for his arrest? He was in an international exhibition representing the Arab Republic of Egypt!”

However, the Egyptian foreign ministry told Diouf’s family that he was under arrest and facing an investigation in Saudi Arabia, according to Mada Masr news website.

Egypt’s foreign ministry official did not explain the accusations against Diouf.

Kotopia publishing house, in which Diouf acted as its director of international book fairs, was participating as part of the Egyptian pavilion.

Kotopia said in a statement that: “We understand the desire of many to know the details in order to be reassured and provide assistance.”

“We follow all available official channels and are keen to choose our steps to ensure the safety and freedom of our friend.”

Family and friends of Diouf have launched an online hashtag “Where is Diouf” calling for the disclosure of his whereabouts.

The Meem Magazine Twitter account stated that the Egyptian Foreign Ministry asked his family to keep silent about their Ahmed’s arrest. Ahmed Diouf, an Egyptian publisher who visited Saudi Arabia to participate in the Riyadh International Book Fair, but was kidnapped by the Saudi security services #Where_Is_Diouf?

This was the third visit of Diouf to Saudi Arabia and that he was apolitical, while Kotopia house does not publish contemporary political or religious books but fiction, thrillers, and historical ones, stated Mada Masr.

Riyadh International Book Fair 2022 is an annual event; this year, it was held between 29 September and 8 October.