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Saudi cleric Nimr in 'high spirits' despite looming execution: Family member

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
People carry flags and signs, including a poster demanding freedom for prominent Saudi Shia cleric, Sheikh Nimr Baqir al-Nimr, who has been sentenced to death, in Tarut, Eastern Province, Saudi Arabia, May 30, 2015. ©AP

Prominent Saudi Shia cleric, Sheikh Nimr Baqir al-Nimr, is in "high spirits" despite reports suggesting that he is at risk of imminent execution, his brother says.

"He's good, very well, high spirits. His health is very good and he is ready for anything, even for death," AFP reported on Tuesday, quoting Jaffar al-Nimr as saying.

He made the remarks after visiting his brother at Al-Ha'ir Prison, situated approximately 40 kilometers (25 miles) south of Saudi Arabia’s capital city of Riyadh. 

Several other family members, including Sheikh Nimr's mother, were also present at the one-hour jail visit.

On November 26, Amnesty International said that Sheikh Nimr was among six Shia activists facing looming execution, citing media "close to the Saudi Arabian authorities."

The London-based human rights group also noted that the individuals were "clearly convicted in unfair trials."

Sheikh Nimr is not concerned by those executions stories, his brother said and accused the Saudi Interior Ministry of sometimes issuing reports in a bid to gauge public reaction.

Nimr's family, however, are still "very worried," he said.

Nimr, a cleric highly respected by the Saudi Shias, was attacked and arrested in the Qatif region of Eastern Province back in 2012 on charges of undermining the kingdom’s security, making anti-government speeches, and defending political prisoners. Nimr has denied the accusations.

In October last year, a Saudi court sentenced Sheikh Nimr to death, provoking huge condemnations and criticism in the Middle East and the world.

Saudi Shias shout slogans during a mass funeral in Qatif, Eastern Province, on May 25, 2015, held for the victims of a mosque bombing carried out by the Takfiri Daesh terrorist group four days earlier. ©AFP

Saudi Arabia’s Eastern Province has been the scene of peaceful demonstrations since February 2011, with protesters demanding reforms, freedom of expression, the release of political prisoners and an end to widespread discrimination against people of the oil-rich region. Several people have been killed and many others have been injured or arrested during the rallies.

International rights bodies have criticized Saudi Arabia for its grim human rights record, arguing that widespread violations continue unabated in the country. 

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