Saudi Arabia: Join the campaign to free Internet activist Abdulrahman Al-Sadhan

11.03.22

The Gulf Centre for Human Rights (GCHR) calls on the Saudi authorities to reveal the whereabouts and conditions in which Internet activist and aid worker Abdulrahman Al-Sadhan is being held. He is serving a 20-year prison sentence in violation of his right to freedom of expression. On 12 March 2022, the fourth anniversary of Al-Sadhan’s arbitrary detention, his family is calling to #FreeSadhan and to join the campaign for his release. They have not heard from him since October 2021.

According to his sister, woman human rights defender Areej Al-Sadhan, "Saudi officials continue to deny him calls and visits, we can't even check on his wellbeing. We're worried about his safety, as the torture and mistreatment have left visible marks and greatly affected his health."

GCHR strongly condemned the brutal sentence of 20 years in prison, followed by a 20-year travel ban after his release, handed to Al-Sadhan in a hearing on 05 April 2021 by the Specialised Criminal Court (SCC) in Riyadh. The SCC is the terrorism court that Saudi Arabia established in 2008 to put on trial members of terrorist groups but has since been used to imprison human rights defenders and activists. This court is not independent, and its orders come from the highest authority.

Al-Sadhan had no access to a lawyer during his trial, which lacked the international standards of fair trial and due process.

On 05 October 2021, the Court of Appeal in Riyadh upheld his sentence. Since that day, his family has had no news about Al-Sadhan, despite filing a legal objection to the sentence, as well as a complaint about the violations to his rights as a prisoner, on 02 November 2022 to the Saudi supreme court, where the previous court had ignored the violations of enforced disappearance and torture.

Areej Al-Sadhan asked, "Why do they keep hiding my brother again? Are they back to torturing him again? We are concerned for my brother's safety. His health was deteriorating, and the signs of torture were clear. Why does the Human Rights Commission in Saudi Arabia continue to cover up violations?!"

The charges are related to Al-Sadhan’s peaceful activities on Twitter of posting tweets expressing his views on citizens' public affairs. Al-Sadhan was arrested on 12 March 2018 at the offices of the Saudi Red Crescent Society in Riyadh, where he works as an aid worker.

GCHR calls on the US and UK governments and international mechanisms including those of the United Nations to take immediate actions to ensure the release of Abdulrahman Al-Sadhan and all other detained human rights defenders and activists from prison in Saudi Arabia. We call on the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) to organise visits to prisons and detention centres where Saudi prisoners of conscience are detained and report about these violations.

The Gulf Centre for Human Rights (GCHR) calls on the Saudi authorities to:

  1. Overturn the sentence against Abdulrahman Al-Sadhan, drop all charges against him, and unconditionally free him, along with all detained human rights defenders, activists and prisoners of conscience;
  2. While he remains in prison, provide Abdulrahman Al-Sadhan with access to his family and medical care, and end the practise of incommunicado detention; Also in the demands she suggested.
  3. Respect public freedoms, including freedom of expression, on and off the Internet, and protect the civil and human rights of all citizens without exception; and
  4. Ensure that all activists, journalists and human rights defenders in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia are able, in all circumstances, to carry out their legitimate human rights activities without fear of reprisals and without any restrictions, including judicial harassment.

Take Action!

1. Please sign the petition to free Abdulrahman Al-Sadhan at www.change.org/FreeSadhan

2. Join the Tweetstorm on 11-13 March 2022 organised by Abdulrahman Al-Sadhan’s family and supporters.

Share Tweets with:

UN and EU: @UNHumanRights​ @UN_SPExperts @JosepBorrellF @EP_HumanRights

KSA: @KingSalman, @KSAMOFA, @MOISaudiArabia, @MoJKSA, @ksamissionun​ ​@KSAMOFA @HRCSaudi_EN​

US: @jakejsullivan, @SecBlinken, @SenFeinstein, @SenPadillam @SpeakerPelos @POTUS

Sample Tweets:

#AbdulrahmanAlSadhan is a humanitarian aid worker – kidnapped from the #RedCross office in #SaudiArabia, tortured and forcibly disappeared. He has spent 4 years in prison for #FreedomOfExpression on @twitter. Tell #KingSalman to #FreeSadhan today https://www.change.org/FreeSadhan

It’s been 4 years since #AbdulRahmanAlSadhan was imprisoned in #SaudiArabia for freedom of speech. He was tortured, held in solitary confinement & denied family communication. Tell @KingSalman to #FreeSadhan immediately and unconditionally today https://www.FreeSadhan.org/

Call on #SaudiArabia to release humanitarian aid worker #AbdulrahmanAlSadhan. He was tortured & held without charge for 3 years, then unjustly sentenced to 20 years for tweeting. His family are deprived from contacting him #FreeSadhan @JosepBorrellF 

#AbdulrahmanAlSadhan, a #Saudi humanitarian aid worker, is still deprived from any family communication for the 4th year in a row. AbdulRahman & his family should not have to suffer another day, he should be released immediately and unconditionally #FreeSadhan @KingSalman

Find more at: www.FreeSadhan.org