Together for Justice strongly denounces the increasing death sentences issued by the Saudi judiciary against opponents and activists for peacefully criticising the authorities on social media.
The last victim is a Saudi national named Muhammad Al-Ghamdi, who has been detained for more than a year as a result of social media posts he made on his X account, which has no more than 10 followers. The Saudi authorities, however, viewed his posts as a grave threat to the country’s security and sentenced him to death.
The death sentence, which was handed down earlier this year, drew fierce international criticism. The UN stated in a statement regarding the subject that “the mere expression of critical views online cannot meet the threshold under international law for the imposition of the death penalty. Under no circumstances do the alleged crimes constitute the ‘most serious’ crimes.”
Muhammad Al Ghamdi was arrested by the Saudi security services on 11 June 2022 and charged with criminal offences for opinions expressed on social media. The charges included “betrayal of his religion, country and rulers”, “spreading false rumours with intent to disrupt public order and destabilise security” and “supporting terrorist ideology and a terrorist group”.
The Specialised Criminal Court found Al Ghamdi guilty and sentenced him to death on July 10, 2023. The court said Al Ghamdi was being severely punished for “heinous crimes” that were “amplified through a global media platform”.
It is alarming that Saudi Arabia’s punishments for online expression include the death penalty or prison sentences of several decades under anti-terrorism laws. These punishments are completely inconsistent with international law and human rights standards.
We stress that freedom of expression and opinion are indispensable conditions for a free and democratic society, sustainable development, and the full development of the person. Any reforms carried out by the Saudi government are meaningless if this right is not respected.
We also confirm that the arrest, detention, and sentencing to death of Muhammad Al Ghamdi send a clear and chilling message to all those who wish to express themselves freely in Saudi Arabia: You will either be imprisoned or executed if you hold that belief.
On the other hand, we demand an urgent international intervention to save the lives of prisoners of conscience in Saudi Arabia and to press the Saudi authorities to immediately revoke the death sentence handed down to Mohammed Al Ghamdi especially after the deterioration of his physical and psychological condition.