Saudi Arabia detains human rights lawyer

Notable human rights lawyer Waleed Abu al-Khair was taken into custody in Saudi Arabia April 15 after a hearing at the Specialized Criminal Court in Riyadh. Abu al-Khair, founder and chief of the Saudi Arabia Monitor of Human Rights, faces charges that include inciting public opinion. Amnesty International (AI) condemned Abu al-Khair's imprisonment demanding his immediate release. In their press release AI criticized Saudi authorities stating that "Waleed Abu al-Khair's detention is a worrying example of how Saudi Arabian authorities are abusing the justice system to silence peaceful dissent. Nobody should be jailed for peacefully exercising the right to freedom of expression." According to AI, Abu al-Khair faces charges including breaking allegiance to and disobeying the ruler, disrespecting the authorities, offending the judiciary, inciting international organizations against the Kingdom and founding an unlicensed organization. In October Abu al-Khair was sentenced to three months in prison on similar accusations related to "ridiculing or offending" the Saudi Arabian judiciary.

From Jurist, April 17. Used with permission.

  1. Saudi Arabia increases prison sentence for rights lawyer

    A Saudi judge on Jan. 13 sentenced human rights lawyer Walid Abu al-Khair to an additional five years in prison after he refused to show remorse for "showing disrespect" to authorities and creating an unauthorized association. Last year, Abu al-Khair was found guilty and sentenced to 10 years on charges that included breaking allegiance to Saudi King Abdullah. The additional five-year sentence may be suspended, but the court also imposed a $53,300 fine, and banned him from leaving the country for a further 15 years after his release. (Jurist)

  2. Rights activist detained in Saudi Arabia

    A well-known female human rights activist was detained Jan. 12 by government authorities in Saudi Arabia. Samar Badawi was detained and interviewed by Saudi prosecutors, allegedly for her involvement in managing a Twitter account that campaigned for the release of her former husband, imprisoned attorney Walid Abu al-Khair. In 2012 US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton awarded Badawi the International Woman of Courage Award. A spokesperson for the Saudi Interior Ministry denied that Badawi was arrested, stating that she was interrogated at the request of a prosecutor. After Badawi's detainment, rights organizations called for her immediate release. According to Human Rights Watch, Badawi was released on Jan. 13, contingent upon her participation in an investigation session with the Bureau of Investigation and Prosecution. (Jurist)