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Saudi Political Dissident to Be Flogged, Judge Rules

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

Judge Issa al-Matrudi sentenced Saudi human rights activist Umar al-Saed to four years in prison and 300 lashes for his peaceful activism with the leading independent human rights organization in Saudi Arabia, the Saudi Political and Civil Rights Association (ACPRA).

Al-Saeed, 24, was arrested on April 28th after refusing an interrogation without a lawyer. Currently, seven members of ACPRA are imprisoned.

Umar al-Saed outside the interrogation office via @181Umar

Umar al-Saed outside the interrogation office via @181Umar

The sentence was made during a secret session held on Thursday [December 12, 2013].

Back in March, a judge decided to dissolve ACPRA and sentenced two of its founders, Mohammad al-Qahtani and Abdullah al-Hamid, to 10 and 11 years in prison respectively. In June, another co-founding member, Abdualkareem al-Kadr, was convicted and sentenced to eight years in prison.

In previous sessions, the judge denied al-Saeed access to his lawyers. After, al-Saeed had refused to talk as long as his rights were violated, the judge decided to postpone the trial. And on Thursday, he suddenly decided to rule.

ACPRA published a statement [ar] with a transcript of a phone call al-Saed had made to his lawyer:

أخذت من السجن اليوم الساعة الثامنة صباحا وبعد أن قيدوني واركبوني السيارة, توجهوا بي إلى المحكمة, أدخلوني مكتب القاضي وكان خاليا, دخل القاضي عيسى المطرودي وقال: لديك جلسة اليوم. السعيد: أنت لم تحدد موعد في الجلسة السابقة, ووكيلي يحضر إليك كل أسبوع يسأل عن الجلسة القادمة ولم تحدد موعد, و الآن تريد عقد جلسة سرية! أنا أرفضها. القاضي: ليست سرية, وهذا الباب خلفك مفتوح! السعيد: الجلسة العلنية من شروطها أن تكون بموعد مسبق حتى يحضر وكلائي ويدعى الجمهور. القاضي: أنا رئيس الجلسة و أنا من يحدد هل هي علنية أم لا. السعيد: سبق الحديث عن هذا الموضوع وإعادة الكلام لا يفيد, لذلك أنا سأمتنع عن الحديث مطلقا.

Today at 8 AM I was taken from the prison to a car after being handcuffed. They took me to the court and they brought me to the judge's office which was empty. Judge Issa al-Matrudi came and told me: “You have a session today”. al-Saed: “You did not specify a timing in the previous session and my lawyer comes every week to ask you about the next session, but you did not specify any, and now you want to hold a secret session! I reject that!” The judge: “No, the session is not secret. The doors behind you are open.” al-Saed: “For a session to be public it has to be announced before so my representatives can attend and people can witness.” The judge: “I am the head of this session and I am the one who decided whether it is public or not.” al-Saed: “We have talked about this before and repeating what has been said is useless and thus I refuse to talk at all.”

In addition, ACPRA published an article that al-Saed wrote in prison [ar] in which he says:

أنا المعتقل المفتخر بصنيعه عمر بن محمد السعيد أتلو لكم دوافعي ومسببات سجني وهي كرهي للظلم واختلاق الألم والتعاسة في وجوه الناس واستغلال جمودهم و استغفال عقولهم والحيلولة دون أرزاقهم ولوازمهم الإنسانية (تعليم مواكب للعصر/ وظيفة كريمة/ سكن مناسب) إزاء مطامع شخصية شرسة محتمية بالسلطة لتأمين هذه المناهب والفساد.

I am the proud prisoner Umar Mohammad al-Saed. I present to you the motivations and reasons behind my imprisonment: my hatred towards injustice, suffering, misery, taking advantage of people's silence, treating them as if they were fools and denying them their human needs (modern education, decent jobs and housing) for personal brutal gains supported by the authorities to protect theft and corruption.

Twitter user Sultan al-Fifi commented on the flogging sentence:

It is normal for those who consider the people a herd of sheep to consider flogging an appropriate punishment for anyone that disobeys the shepherd.

ACPRA member and al-Saed's brother Abdullah al-Saed tweeted:

This unjust sentence is an honor to Umar al-Saed and disgrace to Judge Issa al-Matrudi.

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

  • Fathiyyah Muhammad

    THIS APPEARS TO BE A GREAT INJUSTICE. AMERICA IS THE GREATEST COUNTRY ON THE PLANET. IMAGINE FLOATING ON AN INNER TUBE ACCROSS A SHARK INFESTED OCEAN TRYING TO MAKE IT TO THE PROMISE LAND. AMERICA

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