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Home » Reports » Days after the UN Statement about the Deterioration of Freedom of Expression in Saudi Arabia,Mr. Zuhair Kutbi gets 4-year in Jail and 15-year writing Ban

Days after the UN Statement about the Deterioration of Freedom of Expression in Saudi Arabia,Mr. Zuhair Kutbi gets 4-year in Jail and 15-year writing Ban

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Zuhair Kutbi

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The Specialized Criminal Court (SCC) has sentenced the journalist and writer Mr. Zuhair Kutbi for 4-year and 2-year suspended sentence, 5-year travel ban, 15-year writing ban plus a fine of one hundred thousand riyals ($37,500).

Mr. Kutbi, 62 years old, was arrested on July 15th of 2015 after a TV interview where he called for political reforms, including a constitutional monarchy and anti-religious and political repression. He was arrested from his home in Mecca, then transferred from the General Investigation Directorate’s prison in Makkah to Dhahban’sprison in Jeddah.

The arrest of the journalistand writer Mr. Kutbi is a violation of international laws and charters that ratified or signed by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

As a violation of the United Nation (UN) Convention against Torture (Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment),Mr. Kutbi was beaten with rifle butts on his back by security forces, also faced the risk of torture and other bad treatment.

He also was taken to unknown detention center in the morning of July 15th, 2015for a day before being transferred to Dhahban’sprison in Jeddah.In July 18, he was transferred to Al-Mansour police department, then taken to 4 different detention centers in Mecca over the next eight days, which is an arbitrary arrest.

Mr. Kutbi is suffering different diseases, including high blood pressure, diabetes, tumors in the colon and the effects of a surgery due to a medical error that affected the liver. Despite the fact ofreceiving a limited amount of drugs in prison, Mr. Kutbi has not received an adequate medical care despite his family claims.

His family has been trying to release him on bail, but the judge refused on the pretext that the parole should be authorizedby the Minister of the Interior.

The European Saudi Organization for Human Rights (ESOHR) confirms that the verdictofMr. Kutbi is a serious violation of the freedom expression, and stress that he is a prisoner of conscience and this is even indicated by the details of ruling, which banMr. Kutbifrom appearing in the media and writing for 15 years.

ESOHR also emphasize that Mr. Kutbi’s case is another evidence of the Saudiofficial deliberate ignorance of multiple warnings that issued by international bodies about the deterioration of freedom of expression in Saudi. The latest statement was issued by eight experts in the UNthatcalled for the Saudi government to release all prisoners of conscience and to review the implemented laws and practices.

ESOHR is calling on the Saudi authorities to:

  • The immediate and unconditional release of the writer and journalist Mr. Kutbi.
  • To investigate the conditions of detention and torture Mr. Kutbiduring the arrest.

ESOHR also urges the Saudi government to comply with the international conventions and local laws, which prohibit prosecution of individuals based on their beliefs and practice of freedom of Expression.