Saudi Arabia: Internet activist Dr. Lina Al-Sharif faces terrorism charges
Internet activist Dr. Lina Al-Sharif is still under arbitrary detention and is being interrogated on terrorism charges due to her peaceful activities on social media.
In late May 2021, a group of agents of the Presidency of State Security raided the family home and arrested Dr. Al-Sharif arbitrarily without a warrant.
It is a common procedure for the security forces to storm the homes of human rights defenders, without any judicial warrant to search or arrest them. During the search, the women were separated from the men and each group was kept in a separate room in the house. The search lasted two hours, after which they took Dr. Al-Sharif to an unknown location.
They forcibly disappeared her for two months, after which she was transferred on 26 July 2021, to Al-Ha'ir Prison in Riyadh, where she is still being held.
Although her activities were limited to the peaceful expression of her views on the Internet, on 21 September 2021, the Saudi government informed the United Nations Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances that Dr. Al-Sharif faces charges under Article (2) and Article (19) of The Law of Combating Crimes of Terrorism and its Financing of 2017.
Dr. Al-Sharif is a medical doctor who has practiced in hospitals in Riyadh. Prior to her arrest, she was active on social media, discussing Saudi politics and advocating for human rights in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, including women's rights, freedom of belief and freedom of expression, in addition to calling for the release of all prisoners of opinion.
After the cruel, inhuman and unfair ruling that included a 34-year prison sentence imposed on woman human rights defender Salma Al-Shehab for her online activities, GCHR is deeply concerned that Dr. Al-Sharif will face the same fate, amid claims by the Saudi authorities that they are investigating her on charges of terrorism. The international community, including the international mechanisms, especially those of the United Nations, must take urgent actions now in order to prevent the Saudi government from proceeding with additional decades-long prison sentences – which are unprecedented in the contemporary history of the Kingdom.
GCHR calls on the Saudi government to:
- Immediately and unconditionally release human rights defender Dr. Lina Al-Sharif and all human rights defenders, activists and prisoners of conscience;
- Respect public freedoms, including freedom of expression online and offline, and protect the civil and human rights of all citizens without exception;
- Ensure that all human rights defenders in Saudi Arabia are able, in all circumstances, to carry out their legitimate human rights work without fear of reprisals and without any restrictions, including judicial harassment;
- Work with the independent human rights community and individual advocates to bring about genuine reform, and to advance human rights, equality and women's rights records;
- Refrain from linking work in the field of human rights, and work with United Nations and international human rights mechanisms to alleged acts of terrorism.