HRW: Saudi jails Sudanese journalist over “critical tweets”

On Tuesday, Human Rights Watch announced that a Sudanese media personality and journalist, Ahmad Ali Abdelkader, had been sentenced to 4 years in jail by a Saudi court for “insulting the state’s institutions and symbols”, “negatively speaking about the kingdom’s policies”, and other charges.

AlTaghyeer: Khartoum 

According to the report, the Sudanese journalist received his sentencing based on tweets and interviews shared on Twitter which had criticized Saudi Arabia’s actions in both Sudan and Yemen.

Abdelkader had been arrested upon his arrival at the King Abdulaziz International Airport in Jeddah on April, and was kept in captivity for 20 days before being transferred to al-Shumaisi detention center near Mecca.

The accused, who had been denied legal representation and the chance to defend himself, underwent trial that only lasted for two sessions.

Abdelkader had returned to Saudi Arabia on after having spent 5 years working in the Kingdom.

HRW reviewed the offending tweets and interviews mentioned in the Saudi court and determined that “none of them incited violence, hatred, discrimination”.

The report also mentioned that Abdelkader’s twitter interactions with Moataz Matar, an Egyptian journalist widely known for his support of the Muslim Brotherhood, as evidence of his affiliation with the brotherhood.

“Insulting the state’s institutions and symbols”, “speaking negatively about the Kingdom’s policy and its relationship with the government of Sudan, and accusing the Kingdom of interfering in Sudanese affairs” were among the many charges leveled against the journalist.

The aforementioned charges were described by HRW in its report as lacking “any basis in written or otherwise accessible foreseeable law”.

The court also convicted him under the article 6(1) of Saudi’s anti-cybercrime law, which imposes “prison sentences not exceeding five years or a fine not exceeding three million riyals”, as per the report.

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