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Cross-border repression- Why did Ibn Salman arrest the Lebanese composer Samir Sfeir?

More than a month has passed since the family of the Lebanese composer Samir Sfeir announced his arrest in Saudi Arabia without a charge or allowing him to appoint a lawyer. Sfeir was arrested for his political positions he had previously expressed in a television interview.

A few tweeters fabricated stories about his involvement in drug smuggling, parties and other accusations such as the urgent news published by Al-Arabiya channel about the involvement of the Lebanese Foreign Minister Charbel Wahba in drug smuggling.

Some people may think that it is a silly joke, but it reveals the mentality that allows the fabrication of any crime for anyone Saudi considers offensive to its authorities.

Although the most basic human rights is for the family of the detainee to be informed of the charges against him, this right does not exist in Saudi.

The Saudi ambassador to Lebanon, Walid Al-Bukhari, has no information as well, as the Saudi intelligence refused to respond to the Lebanese security services’ questions regarding the kidnapped composer.

Letters and inquiries from Lebanese security services were met with secrecy: “We are prohibited from providing you with any information about him.” The Saudi consul and ambassador also refused to answer this question.

Foreign Minister Charbel Wahba sent an inquiry to Saudi Foreign Minister Faisal bin Farhan and to both the Lebanese ambassador in Riyadh and the consul in Jeddah, but the Saudi Foreign Ministry did not respond. The Lebanese ambassador in Riyadh responded that Saudi security had allowed Sfeir to communicate with his wife, but he is still banned from appointing a lawyer or receiving visits until the investigation was over.

Given this secrecy, many people might believe that Sfeir committed an unforgivable felony, was involved in a crime affecting the national security, or joined a terrorist group planning to carry out bombings, but Sfeir was only detained in Saudi Arabia for practicing his right to freedom of expression.

In this context, private sources revealed that a Saudi security apparatus specialized in combating terrorism, the Office of Terrorism, arrested Samir Sfeir on April 19 at 2pm.

According to the sources, the Saudi security forces withdrew the cameras surrounding Sfeir’s house and stopped the guard of the house until the “wanted” person arrives and gets arrested. Sfeir’s last tweet was also made that day.

Sfeir called his wife twice. The first was at dawn on April 20, that is, on the day after his arrest, he reassured her that he is in a good health condition and informed her that security agents had supplied him with his medications, and that he was in Al-Dhahban prison, before the call was cut.

As for the second time, it was twenty days ago, exactly 1am. The duration of the call was two minutes, during which he checked on her and if she was still at home in Saudi Arabia, then he told her that he was in prison because of something he had written and said.

More: Four years after his arrest – Human Rights NGOs call on the Saudi authorities to reveal the fate of Musa Al-Ghanami

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