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Saudi blogger and activist sentenced to 15 years in jail

UPDATE 11 September 2014: Activist Fadel Al-Manasif's 15-year-sentence has been reduced to 14 years in jail (ANHRI)

The Arabic Network for Human Rights Information (ANHRI) condemned a ruling issued by the Criminal Court in Riyadh on April 17 against human rights activist Fadel Al-Manasif sentencing him to jail for 15 years. Al-Manasif was also fined 10,000 Saudi riyals ($US 26,665). He was sentenced for participating in Al-Qatif demonstrations in 2011.

Al-Manasif is one of the most prominent defenders of human rights in Saudi Arabia, and one of the founders of the Adala Center for Human Rights. He is also a photographer, a blogger, and a member of the Art Production Coalition. He was detained by Saudi authorities several times before, the first time being in 2009.

Another human rights activist and lawyer Walid Abu al-Khair was arrested while attending his fifth hearing in Riyadh. It was the first time he had appeared after a long period of disappearance. Human rights organisations interpreted his disappearance as a coercive abduction by Saudi authorities, which is affirmed by his appearance for the fifth and final hearing held on 15 April.

"The Saudi authorities' ongoing violations of human rights and freedom of expression, as well as their fierce retaliatory campaign launched against people in the Eastern region as a result of the 2011 protests, have exceeded all boundaries," said ANHRI. "Saudi authorities have forgotten about the human rights charters and conventions they signed, ignoring all human values in their brutal oppression of all those who oppose them."

ANHRI calls for the immediate release of activists Fadel Al-Manasif and Walid Abu al-Khair and the ensuring of their safety and freedom. It also urges the authorities to halt the retaliatory campaign against human rights activists and opinion makers, and to respect the international conventions that the country had signed.

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