Saudi man receives death penalty for posts online, latest case in wide-ranging crackdown on dissent

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DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — A Saudi court has sentenced a man to death for his posts on X, formerly known as Twitter, and his activity on YouTube, the latest in a widening crackdown on dissent in the kingdom that has drawn international attention. Criticism

The ruling against Mohammed bin Nasser al-Ghamdi, seen by The Associated Press on Wednesday, comes against the backdrop of Doctoral student Salma al-Shehab and others face decades in prison on their comments online.

The sentences appear to be part of a larger effort by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to stop any disobedience in the kingdom. He pursued massive building projects And Other diplomatic deals to raise its profile globally.

“Al-Ghamdi’s execution over the tweets is appalling but in line with a growing crackdown by Saudi authorities,” said Lina Alhathloul, head of monitoring and advocacy at London-based advocacy group ALQST.

“The long prison sentences issued for freedom, such as 27 years against Salma al-Shehab, did not receive enough outcry and the authorities took it as a green light to redouble their repression,” Alhatholul said. “They are sending a clear and ominous message – no one is safe and even one tweet can get you killed.”

Officials did not immediately respond to requests for comment on the sentences handed down by Saudi Arabia’s specialized criminal court, which was established to hear terrorism cases but now also weighs charges against activists.

According to court documents, the charges against al-Ghamdi include “betraying his religion,” “disrupting the security of society,” “conspiracy against the government” and “insulting the state and the crown prince” — all for his online activities. Involves sharing.

Saudi officials have not given a reason why they specifically targeted al-Ghamdi, a retired school teacher who lives in the city of Mecca. However, his brother Saeed bin Nasser al-Ghamdi is a well-known critic of the Saudi government living in the UK.

“This false verdict is aimed at personally offending me after the unsuccessful efforts of the investigators to repatriate me,” Bhai tweeted last Thursday.

Saudi Arabia has used arrests of family members in the past as a way to pressure them to return home, activists and people targeted in the past say.

The sentence drew immediate criticism from international rights groups.

“Repression in Saudi Arabia has reached a terrifying new level when a court cannot impose the death penalty for anything more than a peaceful tweet,” said Human Rights Watch researcher Joey Shea.

According to Amnesty International, Saudi Arabia is one of the world’s top executioners in 2022, after China and Iran. The number of people executed in Saudi Arabia last year – 196 prisoners – was the highest recorded by Amnesty in 30 years. On one day last March, The state executed 81 peopleThe state’s largest massacre in its modern history.

However, Al-Ghamdi’s case appears to be the first in a current crackdown that amounts to the death penalty against someone for their online behavior.



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