01/27/2017, 09.30
SAUDI ARABIA
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Saudi activist convicted of "ties" with foreign journalists

40-year old Nadhir al-Majid was tried in a special court for "terrorism." He had already been arrested and convicted in 2011. Human Rights Activists and Association denounced an "intensification" of the "campaign of repression." UN expert: Toward a "crackdown" against Internet users.

 

Riyadh (AsiaNews / Agencies) - Saudi authorities have sentenced a journalist to seven years in prison for offenses against the state, and for having woven ties with foreign journalists,  denounce the Gulf Center for Human Rights, in the context of a wider "campaign of repression" against dissent that has recently "intensified".

The activist movement that, last week, the 40-year old Nadhir al-Majid received the sentence from a Special Criminal Court in Riyadh.

Human Rights Associations criticize the long established practice with the Saudi authorities, where they try civilian dissidents in these courts that, in reality, should deal with cases of "terrorism."

A statement the leaders of Gulf Center, an NGO based in Copenhagen and Beirut, cites recent "reports" which "confirms that the writer was alone during the trial in the courtroom" and "did not benefit from the presence or assistance of a lawyer, nor the presence of family members. "

He faced many charges, including having taken part in unauthorized demonstrations and "having woven ties" with foreign organizations and the press.

Already in 2011, the Human Rights Watch activist group had identified Nadhir al-Majid among the more than 160 arrested dissidents; many from the eastern province, where the Shiite minority had protested calling for political reforms and the release of prisoners. He was released in 2012.

In early January, the international NGO Amnesty International spoke of "a number of activists" detained or summoned to court in the previous week, in connection with the (peaceful) work of human rights activists. Saudi authorities "have begun the year with an intensification of repression of human rights activists".

Last week, during a visit to Saudi Arabia, an independent UN expert has asked Saudi Arabia to "liberalize" - at least in part - its relationship with social media, the primary means of communication used by activists to exchange ideas and information. Philip Alston, the Special Representative of the United Nations on poverty and human rights, said it had received reports of a "crackdown" on Internet users.

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