The Saudi Court of Appeal upheld the verdict issued against the Saudi activist, Abdul Rahman Al-Sadhan -20-year prison sentence and a travel ban for another 20 years after his release- in an unfortunate step that confirms that the Saudi regime has no intention to improve human rights conditions in Saudi Arabia, which has become one of the most dangerous places in the world for freedom of opinion and expression.
Abdul Rahman Al-Sadhan, a Saudi aid worker, was arrested in March 2018 from inside a Red Crescent office in the Saudi capital, Riyadh.
A month after the authorities denied his arrest, they admitted that he was held in their prisons without further information. After more than a year of enforced disappearance, he was allowed to contact his family and tell them that he is still alive and detained in Al-Ha’ir prison, only to disappear again until he was referred to the Specialized Criminal Court at the beginning of this year.
Throughout his detention, the authorities did not allow Abdel Rahman’s family to visit or contact him, nor were they able to follow up on his legal file, as the authorities refused to inform them of the charges raised against him or even allow them to appoint a lawyer for him.
In turn, Abdul Rahman was also denied the power of attorney and was presented to the court without enjoying his right to legal representation, and the sessions remained secret until Abdul Rahman was sentenced to 20 years in prison and a travel ban for another 20 years in April 2021, and the verdict was upheld on Tuesday 5 October.
According to private sources, Abdul Rahman was arrested for running an anonymous social media account that criticizes the government’s performance in a sarcastic manner, which is a crime for the Saudi regime, which does not allow the freedom of opinion or expression.
The authorities were able to identity Abdul Rahman by violating the rules of privacy and security of users on various communication applications, and through the recruitment of some employees in those companies to leak customer data, but the authorities have not been held accountable so far.
The opposition tweets written by Abdul Rahman, although it is a legitimate right, was a reason for his arrest and brutal torture at the hands of Saudi security personnel, who guarantee their impunity, so they continue to relentlessly abuse the opponents and their families at home and abroad.
we strongly condemn the verdict issued against Abdul Rahman Al-Sadhan, and affirm that the international community bears a great responsibility for what Al-Sadhan is exposed to due to the failure to take serious and real measures to secure his release as well as the rest of the prisoners of conscience in Saudi prisons, who are threatened to lose their lives a time because of the harsh detention conditions
We call on the governments of the world and all human rights organizations to unite in order to issue legislation that will compel the Saudi regime to respect its people and their views, to stop violating the rights of citizens at home and abroad, and to put an end to the increasingly brutal violations.