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Together for Justice Holds Saudi Authorities Responsible for Cancer-Stricken Detainees’ Lives

Together for Justice warned of the serious deterioration of the health condition of the cancer-stricken detainees arbitrary held in Saudi jails, mainly Dr. Mohammed Al-Khudari, the military expert Zayed Al-Banawi, and the journalist Zuhair Kutbi.

Dr. Mohammed al-Khudari (83 years old) is suffering from a deteriorating health condition while in detention, where he is being deprived of adequate medical treatment for his cancer.

Al-Khudari suffers from prostate cancer. However, the prison authorities have not allowed him to consult a specialist doctor for over a year now.

He was detained in February 2019 during a mass arrest campaign targeting Palestinian and Jordanian nationals for their pro-Palestine activism.

 On 8 August 2021, the Specialised Criminal Court in Riyadh, sentenced al-Khudari to 15 years in prison, in a mass trial marred by serious due process violations, including being denied adequate access to a lawyer. His prison sentence was later reduced to 6 years, wholly suspended for three years.

Despite serving his prison term, the Saudi authorities continue to refuse his release.

 Additionally, he has lost mobility in his right arm due to the harsh sleeping conditions in his cell, as well as half of his hearing. Furthermore, he suffers dental problems on the left side of his mouth, resulting in teeth loss and difficulty eating. Consequently, Dr. Mohammed al-Khudari has significantly lost weight.

Recently, the family reported that Dr. al-Khudari’s health has further deteriorated, as he now suffers incontinence, herniated discs, knee pains, bone fragility and general frailty.

 Additionally, he has lost mobility in his right arm due to the harsh sleeping conditions in his cell, as well as half of his hearing. Furthermore, he suffers dental problems on the left side of his mouth, resulting in teeth loss and difficulty eating. Consequently, Dr. Mohammed al-Khudari has significantly lost weight.

Recently, the family reported that Dr. al-Khudari’s health has further deteriorated, as he now suffers incontinence, herniated discs, knee pains, bone fragility and general frailty.

For his part, the Saudi military expert, Zayed Al-Banawi, suffers from a critical health situation as the Saudi jail administration continues to prevent him from adequate medical treatment.

Al-Banawi was arrested in October 2017, as part of the Saudi massive crackdown on academics, journalists, and activists in late 2017, a few months after Crown Prince Mohamed bin Salman took office.

 Al-Banawi, a retired colonel specialized in political and security analyses, was detained after he criticised the UAE’s intervention in Saudi sovereign policies.

Despite being diagnosed with cancer, Al-Banawi was not allowed to consult a specialist doctor, which has caused his condition to worsen.

Along the same line, the journalist Zuhair Kutbi has been subjected to deliberate medical negligence despite having cancer.

Kutbi was arrested in January 2019, only two years after his release from Saudi jails. His last arrest came despite his critical health condition.

Kutbi was earlier arrested in 2015 for demanding democratic reforms in the Kingdom. He was sentenced to four years in prison, wholly suspended for two years. He was also fined 100,000 Saudi riyals and banned from writing for 15 years. His Twitter account and website were shut down. In 2019, he was re-arrested and charged with “sedition.”

We, in Together for Justice, call on UN rights bodies to put pressure on Saudi authorities for the release of all sick detainees in Saudi jails, mainly the cancer-stricken detainees.

Pending their release, we stress the urgent need to grant prisoners of conscience their rights, such as medical care and regular family visits, and end all forms of violations they are being exposed to.

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