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Saudi Arabia: Prominent human rights defender Sulaiman Al-Rashudi released

2017-12-13

On 12 December 2017, prominent human rights defender Sheikh Sulaiman Al-Rashudi, a lawyer and former judge who is President of Civil and Political Rights Association in Saudi Arabia (ACPRA), was released from prison in Saudi Arabia. He is 82 years old and suffers from health problems.

Sheikh Al-Rashudi was arrested five years ago on 12 December 2012, while on his way to the Al-Qassim region. The arrest came hours after the publication of a lecture he gave entitled "The Legitimacy of Demonstrations in Islamic Law" in which he explained the legality of peaceful demonstrations and sit-ins to protest rights violations.

Sheikh Al-Rashudi was arrested several times in the past, including on 02 February 2007 together with eight other advocates of reform and defense of civil rights who were called the "Reformists of Jeddah". Sheikh Al-Rashudi spent nearly five years in different prisons in Jeddah until his release on bail on 22 June 2011.

On 22 November 2011, the Specialised Criminal Court in Riyadh handed down prison sentences ranging from five to 30 years to the nine reformers. The nine detainees were convicted of forming a secret organisation attempting to seize power, incitement against the King, financing terrorism, and money laundering. Sheikh Al-Rashudi was sentenced to 15 years’ imprisonment and 15 years’ travel ban to take effect following his release. However he remained free on bail during the legal process.

Then on 12 December 2012, Sheikh Al-Rashudi was arrested and then taken to Al-Hayer Prison in Riyadh where he was held in solitary confinement for two months. During this time, the investigation focused on his lecture on the "Legitimacy of Demonstrations in Islamic Law".

The Competent Penal Appeal Court ratified the verdict of 15-year imprisonment in the Reformists of Jeddah case less than two months after his arrest.

While the Gulf Centre for Human Rights (GCHR) welcomes the release of Sheikh Sulaiman Al-Rashudi, it calls on authorities in Saudi Arabia to release all detained human rights defenders and other prisoners of conscience, including other members of ACPRA.