On December 21, 2020, the Saudi Specialized Criminal Court sentenced the preacher, Hammoud bin Ali Al-Omari, to 9 years in prison, with charges including that he gave a television interview during which he spoke about his previous detention and the charges raised against him. He was also charged with visiting the book fair and participating in seminars held by the exhibition’s management.
The State Security Agency had arrested Hammoud Al-Omari as part of a widespread campaign of arrests carried out by the Saudi authorities in September 2017 against writers, thinkers, human rights and activists, advocates, and journalists.
On September 11, 2017, the State Security Forces arrested Al-Omari based on a set of charges, and following his appearance, the prosecution charged him with criticizing the policies of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman on the Saudi society.
The prosecution also charged him with his presence on the Saudi-Qatari list, which had been established by Saudi tweeters suspected of being affiliated with the electronic committee groups of the cybersecurity apparatus of the administration of the Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, which was managed by Saud Al-Qahtani, an advisor at the Saudi royal court.
After his arrest, Al-Omari was subjected to violation of human rights, political and humanitarian laws, as he was forcibly disappeared and prevented from communicating with his lawyer, and he was also prevented from receiving visits his family during the period of his detention after he was transferred to Al-Hail Prison. Furthermore, all his court sessions were held secretly until he was sentenced to nine years imprisonment.
Al-Omari was known for his criticism of the Saudi regime’s attempts to changing the identity of society, imposing restrictions on the freedom of speech, as well as the work of human rights and community associations. He shared tweets rejecting ISIS, and he presented episodes on how to identify the youth’s tendencies to the ideas of ISIS and how to discuss it with them in a calm manner.
Several human rights organizations have criticized the human rights situation in Saudi Arabia since Mohmed bin Salman took over the mandate of the Covenant, and stood in solidarity with Hammoud Al-Omari from the first hours of his arrest, and they called on the Saudi Public Prosecution to release him and to enable him to see his family and meet his lawyer.
Together for Justice, called on the Saudi authorities to release Al-Omari, especially since he was known for his advocacy of the moderate methodology that is far from extremism. It called the Saudi authorities to respect human rights freedoms, especially the freedom of expression.