Earlier this week, Saudi Arabia’s Specialised Criminal Court (SCC) has sentenced 10 Egyptian men in prison for organising a peaceful remembrance event three years ago. The Saudi authorities considered the event as a threat to its national security without giving any further details.
The 10 men were initially arrested in October 2019 shortly before attending their own remembrance event focusing on the 1973 October War. The men were later released and handed travel bans.
In July 202, they were then re-arrested and subjected to enforced disappearance in the first two months of their detention before being charged of establishing an association without a license.
More than a year later, the detainees were allowed to meet their lawyer for the first time at their first hearing.
The ten men tried to communicate with the Egyptian embassy, but it was in vain. The Egyptian embassy earlier issued a statement supporting “the Saudi right to arrest them as long as it is a national security issue.”
On 10 October 2022, the ten men, three of them are above 60-year-old, were sentenced to between 10 and 18 years in prison.
The 10 detained men are Adel Ibrahim Faqir, Dr. Farjallah Ahmed Youssef, Jamal Abdullah Masri, Mohamed Fathallah Gomaa, Sayyed Hashem Shater, Ali Gomaa Ali Bahr, Saleh Gomaa Ahmed, Abdulsalam Gomaa Ali Bahr, Abdullah Gomaa Ali and Wael Ahmed Hassan Ishaq. The men are all members of informal Nubian community associations.
One of the detainee’s son Amr Faraj Allah Youssef affirmed that they arrested in 2019 for setting up a cultural meeting at the headquarters of the Nubian Society in Riyadh, to celebrate the anniversary of the Sixth of October War, and they were investigated on charges of organising a gathering without permit.
They were released pending investigations, but were later accused of belonging to a terrorist organisation, he further clarified.
In this regard, we stress that these arbitrary prison sentences affirm the Saudi Arabia continues to stifle the rights to freedom of expression, association and peaceful assembly. We further call on the Saudi authorities to immediately release the ten Egyptian men.