Saudi Activist Waleed Abu Al-Khair Spends 9 Years in Arbitrary Detention

Waleed Abu Al-Khair, a Saudi lawyer and human rights advocate, has been arbitrarily imprisoned for nine years in Saudi jails and denied access to basic human needs because of his nonviolent advocacy for human rights.

On April 15, 2014, Abu Al-Khair was taken into custody while present at a court hearing on fictitious terrorism-related charges. His legal proceeding began in October 2013.

Abu Al-Khair was detained after an arrest warrant was issued by the Minister of Interior under the Anti-Terrorism Law of January 2014, according to his wife Samar Badawi, who was detained more than once for her activism.

After founding the independent human rights organization Saudi Arabia Monitor of Human Rights in 2008, Abu Al-Khair began to advocate for human rights. The Saudi government, however, forbade the human rights center from being registered and took down its official website, forcing Abu Al-Khair to start a Facebook page with thousands of followers.

During the 2011 pro-democracy protests in the MENA region, Abu Al-Khair re-emerged defending human rights activists and political detainees in Saudi jails.

He has faced many charges that included, among other things, “breaking allegiance to and disobeying the ruler”, “disrespecting the authorities”, “offending the judiciary”, “inciting international organisations against the Kingdom” and “founding an unlicensed organisation”.

On October 29, 2013, the criminal court in Jeddah sentenced him to three months in prison on similar charges related to ridiculing or offending the Saudi Arabian judiciary.

In June 2014, the Specialized Criminal Court of Appeal in Riyadh confirmed a sentence of fifteen years in prison, a travel ban, and a fine of SR 200.00,- (roughly EUR 47.000,-).

Waleed Abu Al-Khair is the husband of the prominent human rights activist Samar Badawi who was detained more than once for her activism. Badawi is known for her persistent work defending human rights. She was involved in campaigns to end the ban on women driving.

Badawi is also the sister of imprisoned Saudi blogger Raif Badawi, who in 2014 was sentenced to 10 years in prison.

Nearly two months ago, well-informed sources confirmed that Abu Al-Khair was brutally beaten by a group of criminal prisoners in Al-Saadiya prison in presence of a Saudi prison official.

According to the sources, the prison officer incited the prisoners to assault, provoke and beat Abu Al-Khair.

Following the attack, Abu Al-Khair was transferred to solitary confinement despite his serious health condition.

In this regard, we call on the concerned parties to work for the immediate release of the prominent human rights lawyer Waleed Abu Al-Khair and all political prisoners arbitrary held in Saudi jails.

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