7/7/2014 Front Line Defender: Update – Saudi Arabia: Mr Waleed Abu Al-Khair receives lengthy prison sentence and travel ban

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Update – Saudi Arabia: Mr Waleed Abu Al-Khair receives lengthy prison sentence and travel ban

On 6 July 2014, the first instance Specialised Criminal Court in Jeddah sentenced human rights defender Mr Waleed Abu Al-Khair to 15 years’ imprisonment and a further 15-year travel ban, as well as a fine amounting to 200,000 Saudi riyal.

The court also ordered the closure of all of his social media accounts.

Waleed Abu Al-Khair is a lawyer and head of the Monitor of Human Rights in Saudi Arabia, an organisation which monitors and documents human rights violations in Saudi Arabia. The application to register the organisation as a human rights NGO was rejected. In 2012, the human rights defender was awarded the Olof Palme Memorial Fund Prize.

Waleed Abu Al-Khair was sentenced on charges of “striving to overthrow the state and the authority of the King”; “criticising and insulting the judiciary”; “assembling international organisations against the Kingdom”; “creating and supervising an unlicensed organisation, and contributing to the establishment of another”; and, “preparing and storing information that will affect public security”.. The court ordered a 15-year prison sentence to begin on 15 April 2014, the day on which the human rights defender was initially detained. The judge ordered the suspension of five of the 15 years’ imprisonment on the basis that he refrain from his human rights activity upon release. Further, Waleed Abu Al-Khair was sentenced to a 15-year travel ban, dating from the completion of his prison term.

Waleed Abu Al-Khair and his legal representatives refused to sign the court report and declined to receive the judgment or to appeal it. The human rights defender has persistently refused to recognise both the legitimacy of the court and the impartiality of the judge in an act of protest. Waleed Abu Al-Khair has been targeted continuously by the Saudi Arabian authorities since March 2012, and Front Line Defenders most recently raised concerns about the ongoing judicial harassment of Waleed Abu Al-Khair in an Urgent Appeal dated 17 April 2014, To learn more about Waleed Abu Al-Khair’s case, visit his page here.

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