Amnesty International called on the Saudi authorities yesterday to release cleric Salman Al-Ouda, who is in his sixties, after he was admitted to a hospital in Jeddah. News of his transfer shocked his family.
The organisation stressed that Al-Ouda's health conditions "aside from being deeply worrying and traumatic for his family highlights his shameful treatment by the Saudi authorities. The authorities must ensure that he receives all necessary medical treatment, that he is allowed to communicate with his family and a lawyer, and – above all – that he is released from detention".
Amnesty has reported that Al-Ouda's family has not been allowed to contact him and has demanded that his family be allowed to contact him.
Al-Ouda is a well-known cleric who was arrested in September as part of a campaign of arrests that Saudi authorities claimed were launched against individuals working for foreign parties against the Kingdom and its interests.
Amnesty has stated that Al-Ouda's arbitrary arrest and poor treatment is considered retaliation for the peaceful expression of his opinions, and that this is a violation of international law.
According to Samah Hadid, Amnesty International's Middle East Campaigns Director, "The arrest of Sheikh Salman Al-Ouda appears to be part of a wider crackdown by the Saudi Arabian authorities on freedom of expression in the country. All those imprisoned solely for peacefully exercising their rights to freedom of expression, association and assembly must be immediately and unconditionally released".
Sheikh Salman Al-Ouda was arrested from his home without a warrant a few hours after posting a tweet reacting to the Gulf crisis in which he said, "May God harmonise between their hearts for what is good for their people".
Al-Ouda's family told Amnesty that the Saudi authorities asked him and a number of other figures to tweet in support of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia against Qatar after the outbreak of the Gulf crisis but he refused.