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Saudi poet Fawaz Al-Ghaslan arrested in widespread campaign

File photo of Saudi Arabian police taken in Riyadh in 2011 [Reuters]
Saudi Arabian police [Reuters]

Following the campaign of arrests that began more than three weeks ago against a number of preachers, academics, thinkers, writers, journalists, and intellectuals, Saudi authorities have arrested poet and writer Fawaz Al-Ghaslan from his home in Hail.

The "Prisoners of Conscience" account, which monitors Saudi opinion detainees on Twitter, posted that "the arrest of the writer Fawaz Al-Ghaslan on Monday 25 September, 2017 has been confirmed to us."

Saudi Arabia extended its recent arrests campaign to include judiciary, academic and official figures. Amnesty International condemned the arrest of human rights activists and declared that this confirms that the new leadership of Prince Mohammed bin Salman is determined to crush the human rights movement in the kingdom.

May Romanos, a researcher at Amnesty and specialist in Saudi affairs stated that the detainees of this ongoing campaign in the Kingdom are best known for their demands for political reforms and for defending human rights and that Riyadh did not charge them so far."

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The researcher added that Amnesty International is deeply concerned about the fate of these detainees as the authorities have not shared any information about them and their relatives have not been able to contact them. There are also concerns about whether these detainees were tortured.

The researcher explained that the new leadership of the Crown Prince sent a strong message to all activists and critics telling them that it will not tolerate the freedom of opinion, and will not leave space to opinion expression.

The Wall Street Journal reported that Saudi authorities did not identify the people who were arrested and did not reveal their number. Half of the arrested people were clerics, prominent scientists, political observers and members of the royal family. Other activists pointed out that 40 people at least were arrested.

The report also stated that Saudi authorities have justified their oppressive campaign against the opposition as a way of confronting external interests that threaten internal security.

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