Saudi human rights activist Abdul Rahman Al-Sadhan has entered his fifth year of detention after being arrested for expressing his opinion.
On March 12, 2018, the Saudi authorities arrested Al-Sadhan, from one of the Red Crescent offices in Riyadh, where he works.
At the beginning of his arrest, the authorities denied holding him for a whole month, before acknowledging his arrest and subjecting him to enforced disappearance for two years, during which he was deprived of communication with his family, receiving family visits, and all information on his condition, reason and place of arrest were undisclosed.
After two years of enforced disappearance, he was finally allowed to call his family for a minute to inform them that he is being held in Al-Ha’ir prison, near Riyadh.
For three years, he remained in detention without being presented before a judge. Later on, a Saudi court sentenced him to 20 years imprisonment and another 20-year of travel ban following his release. The severe sentencing was based on charges of managing two Twitter accounts publishing satirical content, financing terrorism, supporting the “Islamic State”, and sending messages that are “harmful to the public order and religious values.”
Al-Sadhan’s family confirmed that he suffered severe torture during his detention, including electric shocks, severe beatings resulting in broken bones, flogging, suspension by his feet and other painful positions, threats with killing and beheading, cursing, and other verbal insults.”
On September 12, 2021, Speaker of the US House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi, published a tweet expressing her grave concern over the torture of the Saudi aid worker during his detention in Saudi Arabia, saying “the ruling against Al-Sadhan is a continuation of Saudi Arabia’s assault on freedom of expression.”
The European Parliament had called on the Saudi authorities to immediately and unconditionally release all human rights defenders and women, critics and activists detained in Saudi prisons. The statement included the name of the arbitrarily detained Al-Sadhan and a number of other political detainees.
It is noteworthy that hundreds of human rights activists, preachers and academics are subjected to political arrest in Saudi Arabia, on alleged charges of “terrorism and conspiracy against the state”.
The Saudi authorities ignore the calls of international human rights organisations to release all political detainees in Saudi Arabia, and continue to refer them to ludicrous trials, which lack the minimum standards of fair trials, and where death sentences against opponents are issued.