Dr. Salman Al-Ouda, a prominent Saudi scholar, has now spent six years in detention on charges related to his freedom of speech. His son, Abdullah, reports that since his arrest on September 10, 2017, Al-Ouda has experienced significant health issues, including partial loss of both hearing and vision.
Abdullah characterizes his father’s ongoing trial as “inconclusive and weak,” adding that Saudi officials have consistently denied family visits and have severed all phone communications with relatives for the past four years.
In September 2017, Al-Ouda was among several intellectuals, academics, and activists arrested by Saudi authorities on accusations of “terrorism and plotting against the state.” These arrests have drawn international and Islamic calls for their immediate release.
Abdullah revealed in a 2019 article that his father’s indirect tweet about the Gulf crisis and his call for reconciliation had irked the Saudi government, leading them to consider it a “criminal offense.”
He also stated that investigators informed his father that his neutral stance on the Saudi-Qatari dispute was deemed a “criminal act.”
Earlier this year, a statement from the 41st Gulf Summit announced the end of the diplomatic crisis between Qatar and several other Gulf states, including Saudi Arabia. In light of this, Abdullah questioned the continued imprisonment of his father and emphasized the need for the release of all Saudis who were incarcerated amid the conflict, which lasted for over three years.
It’s worth noting that the Saudi government maintains a veil of secrecy over the conditions of many of its detainees, amid sporadic reports of their deteriorating health and allegations of torture and ill-treatment.