Human Rights Watch said yesterday that Sudanese journalist Ahmed Ali Abdulgadir was sentenced on 8 June to four years in prison for “insulting the state’s institutions and symbols” and “negatively speaking about the kingdom’s policies.” On Twitter, he criticised Saudi Arabia’s relations with the Sudanese government after the 2018 revolution and Saudi involvement in the war in Yemen, HRW said.
Abdulgadir was arrested on landing at Jeddah international airport on 19 April, HRW said. He had previously lived and worked in Saudi Arabia for five years but had returned to Sudan in December 2020 when his residence permit expired.
“We urge the Saudi authorities to free the journalist Ahmed Ali Abdulgadir at once,” said Sabrina Bennoui, the head of RSF’s Middle East desk. “It is obvious that the online posts cited by the court do not in any way justify his imprisonment. This journalist does not pose a threat to the kingdom.”
Arrested while on the air in Sudan
While Abdulgadir was giving a live interview to Tunisia’s Attessia TV channel from Khartoum, on 5 April, about the creation of a Russian military base in Sudan, soldiers came and arrested him, cutting short the interview.
The Saudi authorities are currently detaining at least two other foreign journalists, although neither of the other two has been charged or tried. Marwan Al-Muraisy, a Yemeni citizen, has been held since June 2018 while Abdelrahman Farhaneh, a Jordanian, has been held since June 2019.
Saudi Arabia is ranked 170th out of 180 countries in RSF's 2021 World Press Freedom Index.