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Saudi Arabia transfers Al-Ouda to Al-Hair prison for secret trial

Salman Al-Ouda, prominent Saudi Islamist preacher who was arrested by Saudi forces
Salman Al-Ouda, prominent Saudi Islamist preacher who was arrested by Saudi forces

Abdullah Al-Ouda, son of Saudi cleric Salman Al-Ouda, revealed on Wednesday evening that his father had been transferred from Dhahban Prison in Jeddah to Al-Hair prison in Riyadh for a secret trial.

Abdullah Al-Ouda tweeted:

“My father contacted us and told us about a sudden temporary transfer from Dhahban Prison in Jeddah to Al-Hair prison in Riyadh. He knows nothing about the reason for the transfer or its circumstances.” He added that “an officer at the prison told us that there is a secret trial that my father does not know any details about it, nor his charges or the trial’s whereabouts, nothing at all.”

He pointed out that when Al-Ouda’s family went to Public Prosecution in Saudi Arabia to inquire about the secret trial, the prosecution’s reply was negative, saying that Salman Al-Ouda is now under the custody of the State Security Investigation Service.

Al-Ouda’s son expressed his family’s distrust of secret trials conducted without details and the presence of a lawyer, or organisations and independent parties, or even clear charges. He held the Saudi government accountable for his father’s safety.

The twitter account Prisoners of Conscience, which specialises in reporting the news of detainees of opinion in Saudi Arabia, tweeted earlier about trials of some detained clerics being held secretly. The twitter account expressed back then concerns about transferring some sheikhs from Dhahban Prison to Al-Hair Prison in preparation for secret trials by the law of terrorism, which will inevitably cost the detainees lengthy prison sentences.

In January, Amnesty International called on the Saudi authorities to release Al-Ouda amid mounting concerns about his health condition.

Read: Prominent Sheikh tortured to death in Saudi jail

Earlier this month, Abdullah Al-Ouda accused the Saudi authorities of abusing his imprisoned father since September 2017. He stated that prison violations affected detainees coming from different social backgrounds, including sheikhs, scholars and clerics, to journalists, thinkers and activists, in addition to people in business and members of the royal family.

Al-Hair Prison, which lies 40 km south of Riyadh, is the largest prison in Saudi Arabia and is considered to be Saudi Arabia’s most heavily-guarded prison.

The prison was opened in 1983 and is supervised by the Saudi Secret Service. Most of its prisoners are convicts of terrorist cases, including those who carried out Al-Qaeda attacks inside Saudi Arabia. Other sources say it also receives prisoners of conscience.

Since its inauguration by the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia in January 2017, Mohammad Bin Salman has launched a large-scale arrest campaign involving many human rights activists, journalists, people in business and moderate clerics.

The arrests reached Islamists and liberals alike, and the common denominator between them seems to be the fact that they are not entirely subordinate to the ruling power in the kingdom.

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