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Saudi Arabia: new Jordanian and Palestinian prison sentences amid reports of torture

August 12, 2021 at 2:42 pm

The Saudi Arabia national flag [Chris McGrath/Getty Images]

The Saudi Arabian Prisoners of Conscience group has reported that the Kingdom’s judiciary has sentenced a number of Jordanians and Palestinians to lengthy terms in prison. Some of them, it is alleged, have been tortured.

The group said on Twitter that Hussein Yaish was sentenced to 16 years in prison, Hamza Dweik and Mahmoud Ghazal to 12 years each, and Bilal Al-Akkad to four years. It pointed out that Samir Bushnaq was sentenced to 15 years, not eight years as previously reported, while the court acquitted Abdullah Rashid.

Prisoners of Conscience confirmed in a series of tweets that it had received “information that a number of Palestinian and Jordanian detainees were tortured, to force them to give up classified data about the resistance in Palestine.” It noted that, “They were beaten on sensitive parts of their bodies, and some of them lost a lot of weight.”

During the interrogation, the group added, some Palestinian and Jordanian detainees were asked by Saudi intelligence agents to cooperate with the authorities and provide information in return for reduced sentences, pending their release and deportation to Jordan. It pointed out that the Palestinian and Jordanian detainees who were freed by the court are still in detention. There are serious concerns about their fate.

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The Jordanian Detainees’ Committee in Saudi Arabia had previously said that 69 Jordanians and Palestinians, in addition to 10 Saudis, were given prison sentences. In one case linked to Hamas, the sentence was 22 years in prison.

According to the head of the committee, Khader Mashaikh, a number of verdicts have been issued against detainees, including Muhammad Al-Abed, who was sentenced to 22 years in prison, while media sources also mentioned the names of other prisoners, namely, Muhammad Al-Banna (20 years in prison), Ayman Al-Arian (19 years), Muhammad Al-Kurd (six years), Muhammad Qafh (five years) and Muhammad Fatafta (six months).

Mashaikh pointed out that 10 detainees have been acquitted so far, while others have been released because of the amount of time that they have already spent in prison on remand.

Palestinian news websites reported that the Saudi court sentenced the official representative of Hamas in Saudi Arabia, Dr Mohammed Al-Khodari, to 15 years in prison despite his poor health. His son Dr Hani Al-Khodari received a four-year sentence.

Al-Khodari, 82, and his Hani have been detained in Saudi since early 2019. He suffers from prostate cancer and needs medical care which has not been provided to him in prison.

In April, security forces raided his house and interrogated his 70-year-old wife, Wejdan, forcing her to sign an undertaking that prevents her from talking about her husband’s condition to the media and confiscating her phone.