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Why Saudi authorities insist on keeping Salman Al-Ouda in Prison

Saudi researcher and activist Abdullah Al-Ouda announced in a tweet that the authorities will hold a trial session for his detained father, Sheikh Salman Al-Ouda on Tuesday, 5 July, to complete his trial on fabricated charges by the security authorities and the Public Prosecution.

The expected session will be secret and closed for the media and all independent monitoring bodies. According to Abdullah, this session comes three years after the postponement of the trial in which his father was deprived of legal representation in addition to all his other basic rights.

Sheikh Salman Al-Ouda, a famous Saudi preacher followed by millions around the world because of the moderation of his speech, was arrested in September 2017, during the crackdown of bin Salman on dissidents, academics, intellectuals, preachers, and human rights defenders. This campaign contributed to distorting the image of the kingdom as the international community classified Saudi Arabia as one of the most dangerous countries in the world for human rights.

Four years of solitary confinement, verbal and psychological insults, physical torture, and denial of treatment contributed to the deterioration of Sheikh Salman’s condition, who is threatened with losing his hearing and sight due to poor conditions of detention and cutting off contact with the outside world.

At the end of last year, the family revealed that Sheikh Salman “has lost nearly half of his sight and half of his hearing.

According to a previous interview with Al-Hurra TV website, Abdullah revealed that his father had received death threats inside his prison, last January, saying “my father was subjected to what is internationally classified as torture, starting with being thrown in the back of the car, blindfolded, and handcuffed inside the cell,” he continued, “..my father was also subjected to so-called procrastination for many days during interrogation periods inside the prison, and he was also subjected to sleep deprivation for continuous days.”

Other human rights organizations had documented the torture of the 63 years old man inside his prison. “Down” organization stated that Al-Ouda was ill-treated in Dhahban prison and in Al-Ha’ir prison, to which he was transferred during family visits.”

It should be noted that the case of Sheikh Salman Al-Dah, despite the grave violations committed against him like other prisoners of conscience, as well as the horrific conditions of detention, unfair trial, as well as the conditions of his detention now constitute a big question mark for those interested in Saudi affairs, as he was arrested after writing a tweet calling for reconciliation with Qatar, and which was a few months after the crisis began, and today, after the reconciliation and the return of relations, why are the Saudi authorities insisting on detaining Salman Al-Ouda?

We call on the international community to take urgent action against the violations of the Saudi regime and to form an independent team to investigate violations committed against prisoners of conscience and their families, attend court sessions, and inspect prisons to ensure that all detainees receive their rights guaranteed by international law.

We stress that the anger of the international community alone is not enough. Serious and practical steps must be taken to save Salman Al-Ouda and the rest of the prisoners of conscience in Saudi Arabia and to create an atmosphere of safety and democracy in which citizens can express their opinions freely without restrictions and security prosecutions.

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