Saudi Arabia jails human rights activist Mohammed al-Bajadi
Co-founder of the Association for Civil and Political Rights sentenced to 10 years in prison after being accused of organising a protest and other charges.
A founding member of one of the few independent human rights groups in Saudi Arabia has been sentenced to 10 years in prison, a regional rights group has said. Read this at The Guardian.
Mohammed al-Bajadi was sentenced last Thursday by the specialised criminal court in Riyadh, whose jurisdiction is related to terrorism, the Gulf Centre for Human Rights (GCHR) said in a statement on Wednesday.
Bajadi is a founder of the Association for Civil and Political Rights (ACPRA), said the GCHR, which has offices in Beirut and Copenhagen.
“The court ordered him to serve the first five years of the sentence and suspended the last five years,” it said, adding that he was tried without prior notification or access to his lawyers.
Bajadi, in his 30s, faced various accusations including acquiring banned books, organising a protest by the families of prisoners and publishing material that “would prejudice public order”, the group said.
According to a report by Amnesty International in October, Saudi authorities “have targeted the founding members of ACPRA one by one, in a relentless effort to dismantle the organisation and silence its members, as part of a broader crackdown on independent activism and freedom of expression since 2011”.
Bajadi was one of three members of the group awaiting retrial. Two others were detained without trial, while three were serving prison terms of up to 15 years, Amnesty said in October.
On Saturday, Saudi Arabia hit out at criticism of its judiciary and said it does not accept “any form of interference in its internal affairs”.
The comments came in response to worldwide outrage over the sentence of 1,000 lashes handed to another activist, Raif Badawi, for “insulting Islam”.
The foreign ministry said the country’s constitution “is based on sharia (Islamic law) that guarantees human rights”.
Sweden announced on Tuesday that it would not be renewing a military cooperation agreement with Saudi Arabia, in effect ending defence ties, due to mounting concerns over human rights issues.
In January, the Swedish foreign minister, Margot Wallström, condemned the kingdom’s treatment of Badawi as “nearly medieval”.
Badawi received his first 50 lashes in January but there have been no more since.