Ex-Saudi spy chief Saad Al-Jabari’s children continue to be arbitrary arrested for 4 years

Today is the fourth anniversary of the most well-known blackmail crime and collective punishment carried out by the Saudi regime since Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) took office. On this day, the two young Saudis, Omar and Sarah Al-Jabri, the sons of former intelligence official Saad Al-Jabri, were arrested in an attempt to pressure their father to return to Saudi Arabia.

The tragedy started in June 2017, a few days after Prince Muhammad bin Nayef, who regarded Saad Al-Jabri as his right-hand man, was removed from the Crown Prince’s position. On that day, Saudi authorities prevented Sarah, Al-Jabri’s daughter, from leaving Saudi Arabia to complete her studies in the United States.

Omar refused to leave without his sister, and the two siblings were forced to remain inside the Kingdom under the “security” pretexts. In the meantime, Saad Al-Jabri wrote to MBS pleading to allow his two kids’ travel. Documents viewed by human rights and legal organizations reveal that MBS required Al-Jabri to return to the nation in exchange for “solving the issue of Omar and Sarah.”

After a while, the Kingdom’s authorities frozen Al-Jabri’s funds. The family was shocked to learn in March 2020 that the two siblings had been arrested and taken to an unidentified location. No further information was issued about their fate until January 2021, or ten months later. During this time, the siblings were subjected to a number of violations that were made clear in the secret ruling that was issued against them.

In January 2021, the two siblings were later moved from an undisclosed detention facility to two distinct prisons in Riyadh. This marked the first occasion on which they were permitted to communicate with their relatives in Saudi Arabia. According to family sources, Omar is held in Al-Ha’ir prison while Sarah is held in Al-Malaz prison. However,they are both still prohibited from communicating with their family members living abroad.

The family said that they learned of the commencement of the two siblings’ trial sessions by coincidence. In addition to being denied access to legal counsel, Omar and Sarah were also denied contact with their family. They were sentenced in secret in November 2020; the details of this session were made public approximately a month later. The family learned of it coincidentally when an attorney for MBS responded to a lawsuit that Saad Al-Jabri had filed in federal court in the United States.

In November 2020, a Saudi court sentenced Omar and Sarah Al-Jabri in an unfair trial to nine and six and a half years in prison respectively, for “money laundering” and “attempting to escape” Saudi Arabia.

On December 24, 2020, an appeals court upheld their sentences in a secret hearing at which they were absent. Neither they nor their lawyer or other family members have been formally presented with the final court verdict detailing the reasons behind the initial judgment or the appeal decision.

The decision was based on the two siblings’ confessions, which were illegally obtained from them as the investigations were carried out without a lawyer’s presence. Furthermore, the accusations against the two siblings were for events that happened before they turned eighteen, in violation of The Juvenile Law of 2018, which provides reduced sentences for those who commit crimes while still minors.

In this regard, we stress that Omar and Sarah were subjected to clear blackmail, and a collective punishment policy, which is an approach followed by the Saudi regime to harass opponents and their families, in an attempt to undermine their will, silence them, and force them not to sing out of tune.

We demand that the entire international community, comprising media, human rights advocates, governments, regimes, and UN agencies, step in and apply pressure on the Saudi authorities to free Omar and Sarah Al-Jabri and to end the practice of collective punishment, which is borne by those who did not choose to take sides in any conflict.

We emphasize the need to uphold everyone’s freedom of speech and to make sure that no one is harmed when they exercise their right to peaceful opposition or criticism of any of the regime’s policies, including him, his family, or those close to them.

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