Saudi detainees should not be used as a political tool
As the Saudi authorities is aware that the new American administration is going to be dealing with its human rights record of violations, the Saudi judicial authorities are currently holding trials of detained opponents who are being used as a political tool to pressure Joe Biden, the new US President who will take office in a few days.
Biden had pledged to reassess ties with Saudi Arabia due to its human rights record, as the Donald Trump administration turned a blind eye to all violations in Saudi. Biden also pledged to suspend US arms sales to KSA due to its 5 years long ongoing war in Yemen.
Last month, Saudi courts sentenced Dr. Walid Fitaihi, a Harvard graduate, to six years in prison. Fitaihi, 56, who was released after nearly two years of detention at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in Riyadh as part of what was known as the anti-corruption campaign then transferred to Al-Hair prison in Riyadh, is now threatened with re-arrest if his appeal is rejected.
Fitaihi, who was tortured with electric shocks, is receiving special American attention as he holds US citizenship. US lawmakers have stated that his arrest was politically motivated, as he was convicted on charges including obtaining US citizenship without official permission and tweeting in support of the 2011 Arab Spring uprisings.
There are also two other Saudi-American detainees who are on trial in two separate cases; the first is Salah Al-Haidar, the son of a prominent women’s rights activist, and the second is a writer and doctor Badr Al-Ibrahim, who have not been formally charged until now nor brought before any judicial authority.
Loujain Al-Hathloul’s detention is still ongoing after she was convicted by a Saudi court and a prison sentence was issued against her. Her term is due to expire in two months, but she still has the opportunity to appeal before that.
Sheikh Salman Al-Odah’s trial continues while he is at detention as well as dozens of thinkers, preachers and opinion-holders on politicized and malicious charges so far, while some of them have not been charged until now.
“Together for Justice” believes that the Saudi regime under the bin Salman administration is going to use the detainees file as a means of bargaining and negotiating with the Biden administration. It may even tend to double the violations to add more points on the negotiating table later on.
Together for Justice stated that the detainees should not be a bargaining tool or be treated as hostages and this is not the right way to correct the mistakes of the past. The Saudi regime must take serious steps towards respecting human rights if it wants to gain real international respect and start a new era based on openness, establishing the rule of law and preserving human rights.