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Saudi Activist Tried, Separated from His Lawyers

This post is part of our Special Coverage: Reformists on Trial in Saudi Arabia

The fourth session of the ongoing trial of Umar al-Saeed took place earlier today, September 1, in the Saudi Arabian city of Buraydah. al-Saeed is an associate member of the country's leading human rights organization, the Saudi Civil and Political Rights Association (ACPRA). The judge continued to separate the detained activist from his lawyers so he can “know his true personality, and whether he is just a follower.” He was forced to speak loudly when he wanted to consult his lawyers on anything.

In a previous session, al-Saeed complained about prison harassment and demanded investigation. Today, the judge said that he had nothing to do with this request but he could suspend the hearing sessions until The Bureau of Investigation and Public Prosecution could investigate. The lawyers said that all their previous attempts to contact the Bureau turned to be useless.

In addition, the lawyers demanded that the handcuffs be removed from the defendant during the hearing session, but the judge refused while giving no explanation. They also objected when the judge said that al-Saeed might be just a follower.

The lawyers finally asked for one-month suspension so they can try to stop prison harassment. The upcoming session will be held on October 29.

Women are still banned from attending political public trials. One judge said that “men are good enough.”

On Twitter, netizens exchanged what happened in the trial under the hashtag #عمر_السعيد, which translates to al-Saeed's name in Arabic.

This post is part of our Special Coverage: Reformists on Trial in Saudi Arabia

  • RobertCHastings

    And this is a country who is considered a close ally of the United States? Apparently, the criminal justice system in Saudi Arabia operates a little differently than does that of the US, although judges have the authority in the US to gag or remove defendants, to be lenient or harsh in sentencing, to appoint defense attorneys who are able or incompetent (if the defendant cannot afford his own). So, maybe, there just isn’t that much difference, after all.

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