Death for Tweeting: Saudi Arabia Sentences Brother of Scholar to Death over Tweets


A Saudi court has sentenced the brother of a prominent scholar and government critic to death over his tweets against corruption and for defending imprisoned religious scholars during interrogations, his family and rights groups have reported.

In a tweet on Thursday, renowned UK-based religious scholar Saeed Al-Ghamdi said the Specialized Criminal Court in Riyadh had handed his brother, Mohammed Al-Ghamdi, a death sentence over tweets made from an anonymous account with nine followers.

His tweets focused on unemployment, inflation, and government mismanagement of resources and called for the release of political prisoners.

“I appeal to everyone who has any ability to help free my brother’s neck from the rule of injustice and unfair rulings,” Saeed Al-Ghamdi, who lives in self-imposed exile in London, said.

He further added that his brother, a retired teacher, was also sentenced for defending detained Saudi scholars Awad al-Qarni, Salman Al-Odeh, Ali Al-Omari and Safar Al-Hawali during interrogations. Qarni, Odeh and Omari have been imprisoned since 2017 and are all facing the death penalty.

The ruling against Mohammed Al-Ghamdi, made in early July nearly a year after his arrest in June 2022, was confirmed on Friday by UK-based advocacy groups Alqst and the Sanad Rights Foundation.

It is understood to be the first death sentence over social media posts after a string of extreme sentences over online activism, starting with the 34-year sentence of Leeds University doctoral candidate Salma Al-Shehab over tweets last August.

Taha Al-Hajji, a Saudi lawyer and legal consultant with the European Saudi Organisation for Human Rights, said on Friday that Saudi courts were taking “advantage of discretionary rulings to liquidate whoever they want.”

“Tampering and disregarding lives has reached a dangerous stage in Saudi Arabia. A death sentence issued on absurd accusations is terrifying and dangerous,” said Hajji.

Saeed Al-Ghamdi, a vocal dissident, said the procedure followed in the case suggests it was aimed at punishing him for refusing advances by the Saudi government to bring him back to the country.


Source: Alahed News