Creating new perspectives since 2009

20-year sentence for Saudi teacher's tweets sparks outcry from opposition

June 24, 2024 at 12:26 pm

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

The opposition Saudi National Assembly Party has condemned the Specialized Criminal Court in Riyadh for sentencing teacher Asaad bin Nasser Al-Ghamdi to 20 years in prison, accompanied by a travel ban, Yemen Press Agency reports. Al-Ghamdi was convicted on charges related to his social media activities, including accusations of insulting religion and the King’s justice, endorsing terrorist ideas, attempting to destabilise the system, and endangering national unity.

His arrest followed tweets on his personal Twitter account, which the Public Prosecution sought to shut down. Among the tweets considered evidence against him was one where he expressed condolences for Dr Abdullah Al-Hamid, founder of the Saudi Civil and Political Rights Association (HASM). Al-Ghamdi also criticised Vision 2030 projects and the transformation in the Kingdom and the authorities’ abandonment of the old religious alliance.

Al-Ghamdi, detained for a year and a half, was reportedly subjected to continuous torture and medical neglect in Dhahban and Al-Hayer prisons. The party claimed he was given medication that affected his mental state, leading to noticeable health deterioration.


Saudi authorities have been criticised for appointing a lawyer who acted more like a security officer than a defence attorney, the outlet reported, citing the party. Al-Ghamdi is the brother of London-based dissident Sa’id bin Nasser Al-Ghamdi and Mohammed Al-Ghamdi, who was sentenced to death for his posts on X.

Dr Al-Hamid, a prominent human rights activist, died in custody in April 2020. Since September 2017, Saudi authorities have arrested and targeted numerous scholars, thinkers, and academics.

Read: Human rights groups call on UK delegation to pressure Saudi Arabia over NEOM land grab

The UK-based Saudi human rights organisation, SANAD issued a statement condemning “the arbitrary arrest, subsequent conviction, and 20-year prison sentence imposed on him solely for exercising his basic right to freedom of expression.”

“We strongly condemn the arrest of Asaad Al-Ghamdi and all the violations he faced during the periods of detention, investigation, and trial sessions. We also vehemently reject the unjust sentence handed down to him merely for exercising his natural and legitimate right to freedom of expression in a peaceful manner.”

“We call upon the Saudi government to expedite his immediate release and provide him with the necessary medical care without delay,” the statement added.