Writers and intellectuals ‘are rounded up by plain clothes police in Saudi Arabia’, rights group claims
- Journalists were among nine arrested in a crackdown starting on November 16
- Rights group claimed Saudi have stepped up torture of prisoners of conscience
- Those thought arrested are: Bader Al-Rashed, Sulaiman Al-Saikhan Al-Nasser
- And Waad Al-Mohaya, Musab Fouad Al-Abdulkarim and Abdul Majid al-Balawi
- As well as Abdulaziz Alehis, Abdulrahman Monthly and Fouad Al-Farhan
Saudi Arabia has detained at least nine people including academics and writers in the latest in a series of public crackdowns over the past two years, campaigners said on Monday.
Journalists, bloggers and activists were among those arrested in a crackdown that began on November 16, rights group ALQST said.
The group said on Twitter writer Suleiman al-Nasser was among those detained on ‘the grounds of his intellectual opinions’, as was blogger Fuad al-Farhan for his ‘intellectual activities’.
It added the other journalists, writers and entrepreneurs feared to have been arrested are Bader Al-Rashed, Waad Al-Mohaya, Musab Fouad Al-Abdulkarim, Abdul Majid al-Balawi, Abdulaziz Alehis and Abdulrahman Monthly.
The group said on Twitter these were the writers and intellects feared to have been arrested
‘Saudi authorities have carried out new arrests of journalists, writers and activists, both women and men, in recent days,’ ALQST said in a statement.
‘They have also stepped up their torture, sexual harassment and abuse of existing prisoners of conscience.’
Prisoners of Conscience, a Saudi group that tracks political prisoners, also confirmed that nine people had been detained.
‘Saudi authorities have carried out new arrests of journalists, writers and activists, both women and men, in recent days,’ ALQST said in a statement. Pictured: Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman last month
There was no immediate comment from the Saudi authorities.
The detentions underscore what liberal activists call increasing repression and authoritarianism under Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s de facto rule as he consolidates his grip on power.
Saudi Arabia has faced intense global criticism since the brutal murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul in October last year.
Jamal Khashoggi (pictured) was killed at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul in October 2018
Pictured: Footage of one of the suspected killers, dressed in a blue checked shirt, entering the consulate shortly before Khashoggi was murdered
The killing sparked unprecedented scrutiny of the kingdom’s human rights record, including its crackdown on women activists, many of whom have accused interrogators of sexual harassment and torture.
Saudi prosecutors roundly rejected such accusations in court.
Riyadh has faced pressure from Western governments to release the women, most of whom were detained in summer last year in a wide-ranging crackdown on activists just before the historic lifting of a decades-long ban on female motorists.
In April, Saudi Arabia mounted a fresh crackdown that sent shock waves through the kingdom.
Authorities arrested at least nine writers and academics, including two US citizens, in what appeared to be a targeted crackdown on supporters of the detained women activists, campaigners said.