The Saudi authorities are persecuting Waleed Abu Al-Khair for running the Monitor of Human Rights in Saudi Arabia (MHRSA), an organization he founded in 2008.
The current proceedings against him were started in 2012, when he was charged with "inciting rebellion", "contempt of court" and "creating an NGO without permission", as well as "publishing false information with the aim of harming the state".
On 28 May of this year, he was additionally charged with “preparing, storing and transmitting information that undermines public order” under article 6 of the cyber-crime law, which carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison as well as a possible fine of 800,000 dollars.
The prosecutor-general also requested the permanent closure of all of Al-Khair’s Facebook, Twitter and instant messaging accounts under article 13 of the cyber-crime law.
He was arrested during the fifth hearing in the current proceedings on 15 April. The next hearing has been scheduled for 26 June.
“We condemn Al-Khair’s arbitrary detention and demand his immediate release,” said Reporters Without Borders deputy research chief Virginie Dangles. “This trial is a tragic travesty orchestrated by the Saudi authorities with the aim of gagging all dissident voices".
“The trumped-up charges are cleared designed to punish Al-Khair’s activism and sent a strong signal to all Saudi citizens who dare to question the Wahhabi kingdom and its practices.”
Al-Khair was already sentenced to three months in prison on 29 October 2013 on charges of “disobeying and breaking allegiance to the sovereign,” disrespecting the authorities", "contempt of court", "inciting international organizations to oppose the kingdom" and "creating an unauthorized NGO".
He was convicted because he other activists posted a signed statement online on 5 December 2012 that criticized “the trials of the Jeddah reformers and the events in Al-Qatif.”
The interior ministry notified Al-Khair on 21 March 2012 that he was banned from travelling abroad “for security reasons.” The ban has been in effect ever since.
As a lawyer, Al-Khair has defending other Saudi activists including fellow human rights defender and blogger Raef Badawi, who was sentenced on appeal on 7 May to ten years in prison, 1,000 lashes, and a fine of 1 million riyals (200,000 euros) for insulting Islam (LINK).
Al-Khair was awarded the Olof Palme Memorial Fund Prize in 2012 for his “strong, self-sacrificing and sustained struggle to promote respect for human and civil rights for both men and women in Saudi Arabia.”