Fearing spread of riots: Saudi authorities release three Shiite detainees
Saudi authorities on Sunday released three Shiite detainees who spent more than a year in jail without trial because of their involvement in a popular sit-in in Qatif province in 2009. Knowledgeable sources said that activist Munir Jassaas, Ramzi Mohammed and Jamal Lebad were freed Sunday afternoon.
Before noon, the authorities summoned the families of the detainees to attend the procedures for the release of their sons.
Leaks about the possible release of the three detainees spread yesterday after a meeting between the Deputy Governor of the Eastern Province and local leaders.
The arrest of the three came following their involvement in a popular sit-in in March 2009 to protest the attacks suffered by thousands of Shiites in Medina at the hands of security forces and religious police.
Observers believe the release came as Saudi Arabia fears the possible effects of the bloody protests against the royal family in the neighboring Kingdom of Bahrain. The Saudi authorities are still holding for more than 14 years nine Shiites accused of involvement in the bombing of U.S. base in Khobar in 1996. This attack killed 19 U.S. soldiers.