A court in Saudi Arabia has reportedly handed down a lengthy jail term against a Yemeni journalist, as the Riyadh regime forges ahead with its brutal crackdown led by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman against political opponents and opposition figures.
Yemen Press Agency (YPA) reported that Najran Criminal Court has sentenced Ali Abu Lahoum to 15 years in jail after charges of “apostasy” and “insulting Islamic sanctities” were leveled against him.
An informed source, requesting not to be named, said Abu Lahoum was arrested and put on trial after he was embroiled in a bitter argument with a group of Saudi businessmen.
Abu Lahoum, who has been residing in Saudi Arabia since 2015, was reportedly working in a commercial media organization in the country’s southwestern region of Najran.
He had earlier worked as an executive director for the Saudi Arabic-language al-Wadi television station.
Saudi Arabia shows little tolerance towards journalists, including independent ones, and freedom of speech.
In its 2020 Press Freedom Index, Paris-based Reporters Without Borders said the kingdom ranked 170 out of 180 countries, where No. 1 is the most free.
Last September, a human rights organization also expressed serious concern about the deliberate medical negligence against political dissidents being kept in detention centers across Saudi Arabia.
Sanad human rights organization, which defends political and civil rights in Saudi Arabia and monitors human rights violations and exposes them to public opinion as well as international organizations, said that Saudi prison authorities deliberately deprive inmates of medical treatment as part of their policy of abusing and killing them silently.
While all governments are obliged under the international law to protect human beings against rights violations and ensure their freedom and dignity, the repressive policy of Saudi officials against jailed activists has significantly undermined such principles, Sanad noted.
Separately, the opposition National Assembly party condemned the deliberate medical negligence of prisoners inside Saudi prisons.
The party slammed Saudi officials for the deterioration of health conditions of detainees, political prisoners above all, especially after some of the detainees were infected with coronavirus.
Ever since bin Salman became Saudi Arabia’s de facto leader in 2017, the kingdom has ramped up arrests of activists, bloggers, intellectuals, and others perceived as political opponents, showing almost zero tolerance for dissent even in the face of international condemnations of the crackdown.
Muslim scholars have been executed and women’s rights campaigners have been put behind bars and tortured as freedoms of expression, association, and belief continue to be denied.