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New Saudi king pardons jailed democracy activists

[JURIST] New Saudi King Abdullah [Wikipedia profile; JURIST report] has pardoned four activists jailed after criticizing the strict religious environment and the slow pace of democratic reform in Saudi Arabia. In June, US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice had called for the release [JURIST report] of Ali al-Demaini, Abdullah al-Hamed and Matruk al-Faleh, but had been rebuffed. University Professor Saeed bin Mubarak Al-Zaeer, who was detained [JURIST report] last year for terrorist comments after he compared Osama bin Laden's attacks on Western civilians to US attacks that have killed Iraqi civilians and Israeli attacks that have killed Palestinian civilians, was also released. The four activists released Monday were the last of 13 people arrested [AP report] in March 2004 after a letter demanding political, economic and social reforms was sent to the King. AP has more.

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