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Egyptian lawyer sentenced to one year imprisonment, 20 lashes for criticising King

(ANHRI/IFEX) - Cairo, 21 April 2012 - ANHRI condemns the Saudi authorities' continued hostility towards the right to freedom of expression and other fundamental human rights. Saudi security forces arrested the Egyptian lawyer Ahmed Algizawy upon his arrival at Jeddah airport for a journey of Umrah last Tuesday. He was arrested for his criticism of the Saudi government, and for filing a case with the Egyptian judiciary against the Saudi King demanding the release of Egyptians illegally detained in Saudi Arabia.

Algizawy travelled to Saudi Arabia on Tuesday 17 April with his wife in order to perform Umrah. They were shocked to find out he had been tried in absentia and had been sentenced to one year in prison and 20 lashes because of his defense of Egyptian detainees in Saudi prisons on arbitrary charges and for criticising the king in a speech on TV. Algizawy criticized the Saudi repression of Egyptians living in the country and filed a case against the King in order to force Saudi authorities to hand over Egyptian nationals in their custody. Since his arrest, Algizawy's fate and location remain unknown.

ANHRI is shocked that the Saudi courts would prosecute and sentence an Egyptian citizen without even notifying him of the charges and without allowing for a defense. “Saudi Arabia is one of the worst Arab dictatorships in terms of hostility to public freedoms and human rights. It not only arrests citizens on its own territory but also harasses anyone who dares to defend the rights of these citizens, such as in the case of Saudi activist Walid Abulkhair who was put on trial and harassed because of his defense of the rights of detainees. This time, they have targeted an Egyptian lawyer who exercised his legitimate right to express himself and pursue litigation,” ANHRI added.

“The Egyptian Foreign Ministry should fulfill its role by protecting Egyptian citizens abroad and should respond differently than the previous regime, which used to collude with Saudi authorities in its violations against Egyptians living within its territory. The incident of Ahmed Algizawy is just the latest in a long series of attacks on the rights of Egyptians in Saudi Arabia, including the case of the young innocent Egyptian prisoner Youseph Ashmawi, who remains in a Saudi prison,” added ANHRI.

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