October 4, 2023

By Hande Atay Alam and Celine Alkhaldi | CNN

A Saudi court docket has sentenced a retired trainer to dying over his feedback on-line, say his brother and advocacy group Human Rights Watch.

Muhammad al-Ghamdi, a 54-year-old retired Saudi trainer, was sentenced “following 5 tweets criticizing corruption and human rights violations,” his brother Saeed bin Nasser al-Ghamdi tweeted final week.

In line with Human Rights Watch, Muhammad al-Ghamdi was arrested final yr and given little entry to a lawyer earlier than his conviction in July “beneath article 30 of Saudi Arabia’s counterterrorism legislation for ‘describing the King or the Crown Prince in a manner that undermines faith or justice,’ article 34 for ‘supporting a terrorist ideology,’ article 43 for ‘communication with a terrorist entity,’ and article 44 for publishing false information ‘with the intention of executing a terrorist crime.’”

“Repression in Saudi Arabia has reached a terrifying new stage when a court docket can hand down the dying penalty for nothing greater than peaceable tweets,” Joey Shea, Saudi Arabia researcher at Human Rights Watch, mentioned in a Tuesday assertion.

In line with the European Saudi Group for Human Rights, Saudi Arabia has executed no less than 92 individuals this yr to this point. In 2022, UK-based human rights group ALQST cataloged 148 executions in Saudi Arabia – greater than twice the variety of executions it recorded in 2021.

The dying sentence comes amid an “escalating crackdown” on free speech within the nation, mentioned Lina Alhathloul, ALQST head of monitoring and advocacy and sister of launched Saudi political prisoner Loujain al-Hathloul.

“They’re sending a transparent and sinister message – that no one is protected, and even a tweet can get you killed,” she mentioned.

Al-Ghamdi’s brother Saeed, a widely known Saudi Islamic scholar and authorities critic residing in self-imposed exile in the UK, mentioned he imagine the severity of the sentence is designed to punish him as effectively.

“The Saudi authorities requested me a number of instances to return to Saudi Arabia, however I refused to take action. It is extremely possible that this dying sentence towards my brother is in retaliation for my exercise. In any other case, his expenses wouldn’t have carried such a extreme penalty,” he mentioned.

CNN reached out to Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Justice and Ministry of Inside for remark however had not acquired a response on the time of publication.