Political Prisoner Hassan Al-Maliki: 7 Years in Arbitrary Detention Without Being Brought to Trial

It has now been nearly seven years since the arrest of the prominent Saudi academic Hassan Farhan al-Maliki without charge or trial.

Al-Maliki was arrested during the September 2017 crackdown campaign against prominent academics, activists, and human rights defenders. He remained in arbitrary detention without charge or trial until October 2018, when he was brought to court for the first time and charged with a series of retaliatory charges related to the Saudi Terrorism Law. Since then, he has been tried before the Specialized Criminal Court.

According to private sources, his trial session was postponed more than 16 times for no reason, with the authorities completely denying his lawyer the right to inquire about his legal position or object to his unjustified extended detention.

Similar to all the other political prisoners in Saudi Arabia, Al-Maliki endured several severe abuses that resulted in the denial of his most fundamental rights. He was kept in solitary confinement and brutally tortured. His family was not permitted to see or speak with him, and he was denied access to his case file for an extended period of time.

During the closed-door trial sessions, the Saudi Public Prosecution demanded that Al-Maliki be executed for “possessing prohibited books” in his library, demanding political reform and bringing democracy to governance.

Al-Maliki’s case runs counter to the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia’s claims that he came to bring about reform, to impose “moderate Islam,” and to alter the Kingdom’s system, which he claimed was keeping it stuck in the Middle Ages. However, the reality is that the Crown Prince’s own policies are keeping the Kingdom stuck in the same dark eras, where people are unable to voice their opinions, convictions, or aspirations.

There are fourteen charges against Al-Maliki, the most notable of which is “possession of books.” Most of the charges are connected to his exercise of his right to free speech and criticism of the policies of the governing regimes in the Gulf Cooperation Council countries.

We think that allowing religious thinkers such as Al-Maliki to speak freely without fear of retaliation, arrest, or death, as well as fostering thoughtful discourse, are the real routes to reform in Saudi Arabia. Although we may not share Al-Maliki’s beliefs, we do, of course, support his right to express them and deny that any of his rights have been infringed.

Many of the Kingdom’s prisoners of conscience are currently pursuing the death penalty. Salman Al-Awda, a well-known Islamic preacher, is one of them. He is being tried on nebulous charges pertaining to his political positions and statements.

Awad Al-Qarni, Ibrahim Al-Nasser, Ibrahim Al-Faris, and numerous other activists, academics, and aid workers, were among the high-profile detainees who were arrested in the September 2017 crackdown. The majority of these individuals received sentences of varying lengths of imprisonment, including Abdul Rahman Al-Sadhan, whose appeal against the 20-year prison sentence was rejected.

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