4/10/2013 Front Line Defender: Saudi Arabia: Arrest of human rights defender Mr Waleed Abu Al-Khair

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Saudi Arabia: Arrest of human rights defender Mr Waleed Abu Al-Khair

Waleed Abu Al-KhairWaleed Abu Al-Khair

On 2 October 2013, human rights defender and lawyer Mr Waleed Abu Al-Khair was arrested in Jeddah city and charged with “organising illegal gatherings” in his house. He has since been transferred for further questioning to the interrogation office, which has extended his detention until 6 October 2013.

[Update 4 October 2013 at 16.15: It has been reported that Waleed Abu Al-Khair has been released on bail. More Information to follow.]

Waleed Abu Al-Khair is a human rights lawyer and founder of the Monitor of Human Rights in Saudi Arabia. He has been involved in cases against the government for jailing activists without charge and for banning women voting in municipal elections.

Prior to his arrest on 2 October 2013, Waleed Abu Al-Khair was involved in multiple ongoing court proceedings. Relating to these separate charges, the Ministry of the Interior confirmed on 28 March 2012 that a ban prohibiting Waleed Abu Al-Khair from travelling outside the country was in place. A spokesperson from the Ministry stated that this measure was put in place for an indefinite period, and that it was based on a court order from the Investigation and Public Prosecution Authority. Front Line Defenders issued an urgent appeal on this travel ban on 30 March 2012.

In a separate case, Waleed Abu Al-Khair was on trial before the Saudi Special Criminal Court on charges of, among other things, “calling for a constitutional monarchy,” “talking to the media with the intention of harming the reputation of country,” “insulting the judiciary and its staff,” and “communicating with foreign quarters.” This more recent trial began on 4 June 2012 and its tenth hearing was convened on 9 September 2013 at the Criminal Court in Jeddah.

Front Line Defenders expresses its concern regarding the arrest of Waleed Abu Al-Khair, which is a worrying step in the judicial harassment of the human rights defender, along with the travel ban imposed upon him since 2012.

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