Saudi Arabia: writer Nadhir al-Majid’s sentence upheld

Well-known Saudi Arabian writer Nadhir al-Majid had his sentence upheld by the Riyadh Court of Appeal on 4 June 2017. The judgment is final and cannot be subject to further appeal.

On 18 January 2017, al-Majid was found guilty of ‘writing articles supporting protests’, ‘failing to obey the ruler’, ‘contact with foreign news agencies’ and ‘participating in demonstrations’. He was sentenced to seven years in prison as well as a seven-year travel ban and a fine of 100,000 riyals (approx. £21,000). Al-Majid was immediately arrested at the hall of the Court of Appeal of the Specialised Criminal Court in Riyadh and taken to the al-Ha’ir high-security prison where he was held in solitary confinement for over a month. Al-Majid was then transferred to the Al-Damam prison on 24 February, where he spent the first two days in solitary confinement.

Salil Tripathi, Chair of PEN International’s Writers in Prison Committee, said:

By persisting in silencing critical voices, the Saudi authorities demonstrate their total disregard for freedom of expression in the country. Al Majid, should be released immediately and his sentence should be quashed as it is based solely on his peaceful exercise of his right to freedom of expression.

Background

Al-Majid is a prominent Saudi writer and school teacher who has published many books and articles in several Arabic newspapers and electronic websites, including Modern Discussion and Droub.

Al-Majid was previously arrested on 13 April 2011 and detained until 27 June 2012, without charges or trial. He reports having been tortured and ill-treated and placed in solitary confinement for five months. His detention was related to his writings and publications, in particular his article I protest, I am a human being in which he supports the right to protest and freedom of assembly. This article, along with his other articles, were published in 2015 in a book entitled I protest. Al-Majid is also the author of Prokrustes shades: the text, the intellectual, the confession, published in 2015, in which he promotes liberal and uncensored writings.

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