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Saudi Arabia extends dissident writer’s prison sentence for 4 more years

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)
Imprisoned Saudi dissident and author Muhammad al-Hudayf (Photo via Twitter)

Saudi authorities have extended the prison sentence of a renowned dissident author by four more years, as a crackdown led by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman against pro-democracy campaigners, Muslim preachers and intellectuals continues in the kingdom.

The rights group Prisoners of Conscience, which is an independent non-governmental organization seeking to promote human rights in Saudi Arabia, announced in a post on its official Twitter page that the officials had ordered Muhammad al-Hudayf to serve four more years in jail, just after he will have spent nine years behind bars.

Hudayf has worked as a member of the editorial board for several periodical publications, like Resala and al-Riyadh newspapers as well as al-Da’wah and al-Mugrabah magazines.

He has prepared and presented a number of programs on Almajd television network and Daleel TV, and participated in a number of talk shows on state-run Saudi television channels as well.

Last February, a Saudi court extended the term of Hudayf’s imprisonment from 5 to 9 years.

In June 2018, Saudi Arabia's so-called Specialized Criminal Court sentenced Hudayf to five years in prison followed by a further five-year travel ban and a ban on social media.

Hudaif was arrested on March 19, 2016 at King Khalid International Airport, located 35 kilometers (22 miles) north of Riyadh, upon return from Turkey. 

The prosecution listed 42 charges against him, most of them vague accusations. 

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.

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