Saudi authorities refuse to release journalist Walid Al-Howairini despite serving his prison sentence two years ago

In September 2022, the Saudi authorities were supposed to release the journalist and researcher Walid Al-Howairini after serving his 5-year prison sentence which he received over his political and intellectual activism, which is strictly prohibited by the Saudi regime, which does not tolerate any form of freedom of opinion and expression. However, the authorities still refuse to release Al-Howairini or disclose the reasons for his continued arbitrary detention.

On September 12, 2017, Walid Al-Howairini was taken into custody as a part of a widespread campaign of arrests by the State Security Service, which was founded by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) to arrest a large number of scholars, preachers, researchers, academics, journalists, and human and women’s rights activists. Following a raid on his residence, he was taken into custody and sent to Al-Ha’ir prison in Riyadh by state security forces. Like other prisoners held in the Kingdom’s prisons, he was subjected to grave and systemic violations following his prolonged enforced disappearance. Not only was he kept in solitary confinement for extended periods of time, but he was also denied access to communication and visitation with his family, as well as legal representation.

He was later brought before the Specialized Criminal Court and sentenced to five years in prison following a secret trial. Unofficially, however, the Saudi authorities prolonged his detention and his whereabouts remain unknown.

Al-Howairini was well-known for his advocacy of peoples’ freedom and the Arab Spring revolutions. His numerous studies and books, which promote Arab nations’ journey toward freedom, have given Arab youth hope that they can play a part in transforming their country and bringing about positive changes. Al-Hawaini also spearheaded a campaign to advocate for media freedom and the improvement of the media system within the Kingdom. He also shed light on the media’s vital role in forming a people’s collective consciousness, stressing that the media can steer people in the wrong direction when it becomes aimless.

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