Why Has This Saudi Aid Worker Received 'a Brutal' Sentence That Has Appalled US Officials?

Published April 8th, 2021 - 05:37 GMT
Abdulrahman Al-Sadhan
Al-Sadhan had mocked Saudi policies, describing it as a "failure". (Al Bawaba)

After three years in which he was missing before being referred to counterterrorism court in Saudi Arabia, aid worker Abdulrahman Al-Sadhan has been sentenced to 20 years in prison and another 20 years of travel ban, a sentence that has triggered a massive online backlash.

Tweets by Al-Sadhan's family members protesting the latest court decision, that is based on his previous online activity that was critical of Saudi policies, have gathered momentum as people from different parts of the world joined calls on Saudi Arabia to reconsider the decision and to allow more space for freedom of speech in the country.

Al-Sadhan's case has also drawn the interest of international human rights activists in addition to US officials, including the Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, who tweeted in condemnation of the sentence, calling it "a brutal" one.

Moreover, the US State Department's spokesperson Ned Price has tweeted in support of Al-Sadhan's right of expression, saying that "exercising human rights should never be a punishable offense."

Al-Sadhan, who had graduated from the Notre Dame de Namur University in 2013, is believed to have run an anonymous satirical Twitter account through which he expressed his dissatisfaction with Saudi policies. He was arrested in 2018 during Saudi's crackdown on critics and dissidents.

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