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Saudi court jails human rights lawyer for 15 years

A criminal court in Saudi Arabia has convicted lawyer and human rights activist Waleed Abul-Khair to 15 years in jail after finding him guilty of "harming the Kingdom's reputation and inciting public opinion," a Saudi news agency said.

The news agency did not name the activist however his name spread rapidly on social media sites in the wake of the announcement by the court in Jeddah.

According to the news agency, Abul-Khair was also convicted of "contempt of Sharia judiciary, spreading information that harms the reputation of the Kingdom and heading unlicensed associations through which he issues statements, contacts people, and stores and sends information that harms the public order."

In addition to the 15 years in prison, Abul-Khair was fined to $53,000 and banned from travelling for 15 years following his prison term.

The court ordered all websites used by him to be shut down. Evidence from the ages was used as proof of his involvement during the trial.

The attorney general appealed against the verdict.

Abul-Khair is the head of the Monitor of Human Rights in Saudi Arabia, an independent organisation founded in 2008.

Last April, Amnesty International said Abul-Khair had detained in connection with his human rights work. It said he had been convicted by another criminal court for the same accusations back in October 2013.

Deputy Director of the Middle East and North Africa Programme at Amnesty International, Said Boumedouha, said: "Authorities in Saudi Arabia are clearly punishing Waleed Abul-Khair for his work protecting and defending human rights."

Boumedouha added: "He is a prisoner of conscience and must be released immediately and unconditionally."

 

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Middle EastNewsSaudi Arabia
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