03/01/2018, 09.18

Saudi activist given six years jail for criticizing war in Yemen

Issa al-Nukheifi posted tweets critical of the government, questioning its measures. Once free, he cannot leave the country for another six years or use social networks. Human rights activists and NGOs protest: the coordinated repression of dissent continues.

Riyadh (AsiaNews / Agencies) - A Saudi court has sentenced the human rights activist Issa al-Nukheifi to six years in prison. The sentence came late yesterday afternoon and found the defendant guilty of posting tweets critical of the government.

According to the newspaper Okaz, he is accused of criticizing the Saudi intervention in Yemen, where there is a war with "catastrophic" consequences. The activist also "insulted" the government and "questioned" decisions, security measures and criminal justice measures.

The Saudi human rights group Alqst, based in London, reports that the activist was arrested in December 2016. The activists of Amnesty International speak of political condemnation and demand his immediate release. Instead of seeking activists’ input to strengthen the path of reforms, AI’s Dana Ahmed points out that the authorities "hunt them down, with all the activists silenced or imprisoned".

In addition to six years in prison, Issa al-Nukheifi once released will not be able to use internet or social media for another six years; for the whole period he will not even be able to leave the country for trips abroad.

The activist had already been jailed in 2012 and released in April 2016. Just eight months later he was re-arrested, which ended yesterday's sentence.

In recent weeks, on the eve of the trial, al-Nukheifi had written a letter to the powerful crown prince (and number two of the country) Mohammed bin Salman (Mbs) saying he was happy for his speeches "in favor of freedom of expression and human rights ". "I write to you from my cell - added the man - where I have been locked up for asking these steps".

Last September, the Saudi authorities arrested dozens of religious, intellectuals and scholars, attracting criticism from international human rights groups and organizations. These actions aimed at those calling for more freedom and rights is a "coordinated repression of dissent".

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