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Abdul Rahman Al-Sadhan: A clear example of the brutality of the Saudi regime

It has been almost three years since the imprisoned Saudi aid worker Abdul Rahman Al-Sadhan contacted with his family from his prison cell. This came after he was sentenced to life imprisonment over tweets criticising the Saudi authorities. Since then, the family has denied any information about his place of detention or even his health condition.

Abdul Rahman Al-Sadhan was detained by Saudi Arabia in 12 March 2018 at the Red Crescent Society’s office in Riyadh. The Saudi authorities denied his arrest for a whole month before confirming his detention. However, Al-Sadhan was denied any family contact or access to a lawyer during his detention.

He remained in detention for three years without charge or trial in violation of the Saudi law of due process. In October 2021, an appeals court in Saudi Arabia upheld a lengthy prison sentence for the aid worker, sentenced in April 2021 to 20 years in jail by a counter-terrorism court in Riyadh.

During his detention, he was only allowed to contact his family in two times, the first was after 23 months of his detention and the second was after more than three years of his detention.

Abdul al-Rahman was denied to have a lawyer to represent him or to know his charges. Four months after the court verdict was upheld in October, Abdul al-Rahman disappeared again, while no news was revealed about his fate till time of this writing.

Well-informed sources affirmed that he was detained after his anonymous Twitter account was hacked. Al-Sadhan was running a satirical Twitter account criticising the Saudi regime’s policies.

In May 2023, Areej Al-Sadhan, Abdul Rahman’s sister, filed a racketeering lawsuit against Twitter and senior Saudi officials on behalf of her brother, accusing them of blackmailing her brother, endangering his life, and violating his privacy.

The lawsuit by Areej al-Sadhan said that Twitter has become a “participant tool” in a campaign of transnational repression by Saudi authorities as part of the company’s effort to monetise its relationship with the kingdom. Saudi Arabia is Twitter’s second-largest investor, after Elon Musk.

In other statements, Abdul Rahman’s sister Areej said that she learned from informal sources that her brother had been tortured and held in solitary confinement for years.

She was told that the secret police “broke Plaintiff Abdulrahmam’s hand and smashed his fingers, taunting him that ‘this is the hand you write and tweet with”.

In detention, Al-Sadhan was subjected to several human rights violations including enforced disappearance, torture, forced confession, medical negligence, and other forms of cruel ill-treatment.

In this regard, Together for Justice calls for the immediate and unconditional release of Al-Sadhan and to stop all the human rights violations he is subjected to.

It also calls on the international community to take immediate actions to put pressure on the Saudi regime to reveal Abdul Rahman Al-Sadhan’s fate, and to improve the human rights situation in the Kingdom.

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