Saudi Arabia sentences man to death for criticizing the government on social media
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A Saudi Arabian man has been sentenced to death for criticizing the government on social media.
The Media Line reported that Saudi Arabia’s Specialized Criminal Court sentenced former teacher Muhammad al-Ghamdi, 54, to death in the government’s latest crackdown on freedom of expression.
According to the outlet, Muhammaed faces charges of going against Saudi leadership, undermining state institutions, and supporting terrorist ideology on his X/Twitter account, which only had nine followers.
"Saudi courts are escalating their repression and unveiling publicly their empty promises of reform," said Lina al-Hathloul, head of monitoring and communication for the rights group ALQST, as per Human Rights Watch.
"How can the world believe the country is reforming when a citizen is going to have his head cut off over tweets on an anonymous account with less than 10 followers?"
Joey Shea, Saudi Arabia researcher at Human Rights Watch, said that Saudi officials had reached a ‘terrifying’ new stage for prosecuting a man over ‘peaceful tweets’.
“Saudi authorities have escalated their campaign against all dissent to mind-boggling levels and should reject this travesty of justice," he added.
According to the organization, Muhammed was arrested in front of his wife and children before he was transferred to al-Dhahban Prison, north of Jeddah, in June 2022.
There, he was held in solitary confinement for four months.
Specialised Criminal Court charged her with 'using the internet to tear the (Saudi) social fabric' and 'violating public order by using social media'.
It came after Salma al-Shehab, a mother of two and doctoral candidate at the University of Leeds, was sentenced to 35 years imprisonment for following and retweeting dissidents and activists on X.
Shehab's sentencing also included a 34-year travel ban.
Amnesty reported that the Saudi government has enforced brutal crackdowns on individuals to voice their opinions on social media in the past year.
“Saudi Arabia has a long and infamous record of cracking down on human rights defenders, journalists and members of civil society, and their targets now include ‘ordinary’ members of the public who are peacefully exercising their right to freedom of expression online,” Philip Luther, Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa Research and Advocacy Director said.
“These shocking sentences send a chilling reminder to all Saudi citizens and residents that any dissent will not be tolerated."