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Saudi activist sentenced to 4 years in jail, 300 lashes for speaking out

The Arabic Network for Human Rights Information (ANHRI) denounces the decision of a Saudi court to sentence a 23-year-old human rights activist to four years in prison and 300 lashes for calling for the creation of a constitutional monarchy.

On 12 December 2013, the Buraidah Criminal Court held activist Omar al-Saeed's seventh hearing. Al-Saeed's lawyer was not allowed to attend the secret hearing in which al-Saeed was handed down his four-year sentence. The Saudi activist is also banned from traveling for four years following the end of his prison term.

The court accused al-Saeed, who is a member of the Saudi Civil and Political Rights Association (ACPRA), of many things, including incitement to sedition, calling for protest, insulting members of the Council of Senior Scholars, insulting the judiciary, joining a suspicious and unlicensed organisation, and spreading false news on the Internet to abuse the state.

On 28 April 2013, he was arrested by Saudi security forces, after he was summoned for investigation by the Bureau of Investigations and Public Prosecution. Because al-Saeed's defense lawyer was not allowed to attend the investigations, he refused to speak to or cooperate with the investigator as a form of protest.

"The unfair sentence al-Saeed received is just the latest conviction in a spate of sentences handed down to activists and human rights defenders at the hands of a judicial system that is not independent of the government," stated ANHRI. "Members of the Saudi civil and Political Rights Association (ACPRA) are particularly targeted, namely Mohamed Fahd Al-Kahtani, Abu Belal Abdel Hamed and Abdel Kareem Al-Khedir.

ANHRI pointed out that the Saudi regime, its security forces, and its judicial bodies have become obstacles to any democratic transformation in Saudi Arabia.

The organisation calls for the release of human rights activist Omar al-Saeed, for his safety to be ensured, and for all charges against him to be dropped.

What other IFEX members are saying
  • Saudi court case, censorship show increasing government pressure on civil society

    Omar al-Saeed is the fourth member of the Saudi Civil and Political Rights Association (ACPRA) to be jailed this year, after the group criticized the kingdom’s rulers for their human rights record, and called for moves toward democracy.

  • Saudi Arabia: Activists challenging status quo

    Activists in Saudi Arabia face a repressive and intolerant government as they advocate popular political participation, judicial reform, and an end to discrimination against women and minorities. Authorities have responded by arresting, prosecuting, and attempting to silence rights defenders and to quash their calls for change.

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