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Tweeter Abdulaziz Al-Sonaidi receives aneight yearprison sentence andfineof $13000 by Saudi Arabia for his tweetson human rights

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عبدالعزيز-السنيديThe European Saudi Organization for Human Rights (ESOHR)expresses its concern at the deterioration of the right to freedom of expression in Saudi Arabia.On the 13th October 2015, a Criminal Court sentenced Abdul Aziz Abdul Latif Al-Sonaidi, aged 45, to an eight year prison sentence, an eight year travel ban and a fine of 50 thousand riyals (equivalent to $ 13.333). Al-Sonaidi was subject to an arbitrary arrest on the 8th February 2015, wherehe was raided by officers from the criminal investigation department, whilst he was at a fuel station.

He was taken immediately to the province police station in Qassim, and was subjected to interrogation the following day, with questions revolving around his tweets on twitter his twitter account @akhdar6, as well as regarding statements he signed that demanded political reforms. Two days later, he was transferred to the criminal prison in Buraidah, then to Malaz prison in Riyadh, then to Breiman Prison in Jeddah and then returned to Malaz prison in Riyadh, where he is currently detained.

Al-Sonaidi was subjected to enforced disappearance as he was prevented from communicating with his family and the outside world during the period of interrogation until they later discovered that he was being held in Buraidah criminal prison. In July 2015 Al-Sonaidi was transfered to Jeddah, as this is where the criminal court conducts its operations over the summer period, and here his first court session was held, later he was transferred back to Riyadh (on the 6th October 2015) to complete the rest of trial there.

Several charges were levied against Al-Sonaidi:

-Insulting the king, and intervening in whatdoes not concern him, with the view to spread chaos and incite public opinion and sedition through his twitter account.

-Incitement to breach the system and create chaos and disturb the peace by signing a statement calling for protests. -Insulting the judiciary, describing the judges as oppressors.

-Describing Saudi regime as a police regime which targeting human rights. -Pitting public opinion by accusing senior officials of repression and torture.

-Supporting the Civil and Political Rights Association (ACPRA).

-Non-compliance with the decision to dissolve ACPRA by the judiciary.

-Retweeting Tweets from accounts that provide advocacy of detainees, and retweeting tweets with negative hashtags.

-Preparing, storing and sending material that would prejudice public order by writing Tweets which accuse the authorities of injustice.

ESOHR confirms that Al-Sonaidiis a prisoner of conscience, and that his sentence was based on charges related to him exercising his right to freedom opinion and expression via twitter, and are based on his expression his political views and solidarity with the detained political prisoners and criticism of the System.

ESOHR highlightsthat Al-Sonaidi’s trial lacks to the conditions that constitute a fair trial, and he was put on trial before a specialized court, which does not have jurisdiction to hear such cases,bearing in mind that his case was related to a series oftweets. Furthermore, he was preventedfrom access to a lawyer during his investigation, and throughout his trial. Based on that, European Saudi Organization for Human Rights calls upon the Saudi authorities to: – Immediately release Al-Sonaidiwithout imposing any conditions. – Drop all charges against Al-Sonaidi because her was merely exercising his right to freedom of opinion and expression. – Begin a re-trial in accordance with internationally recognized fair trial conditions. – Revise domestic laws that are incompatible with freedom of expression and civil and political rights.