Mar 11 2013
Mohammed Al-Qahtani and Abdullah Al-Hamid, two prominent Saudi human rights activists, were handed 10-year prison sentences this weekend, concluding a trial that began in June 2012, and has since gained international attention.
Al-Qahtani, an economics professor, has been an outspoken critic of the Saudi judicial system and monarchy. He has spent most of his energy focusing on the arbitrary detention of political prisoners. In 2012, he pushed his criticism to dangerous levels when he demanded the country’s interior minister be tried for human rights violations.
On Saturday, he was sentenced to 10 years in jail, and handed a subsequent 10-year travel ban. He was charged with nine offenses including co founding an unlicensed organization and turning international organizations against the Kingdom. His partner, Al-Hamid was sentenced to 11 years in prison – five years added to a six-year previous sentence that was pardoned.
As part of the ruling, their organization, the Saudi Civil and Political Rights Association (ACPRA), has also been shut down and had their assets seized. ACPRA has been functioning since 2009, despite having their operations threatened and website shut down on numerous occasions, according to Al-Qahtani. The organization works with human rights groups outside of the country to help families of political detainees file claims against the Saudi government with the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detentions.
Read more: http://world.time.com/2013/03/11/saudi-arabia-jails-two-leading-activists-for-10-years/#ixzz2NGM7tqs2