At least 30 TV presenters, editors, columnists and bloggers are currently in prison, the victims of an opaque and arbitrary judicial system, because of what they said in an article, a TV interview, a blog post or even a single tweet.
According to certain local media outlets, the journalist Turki Al-Jasser probably died under torture shortly after Khashoggi’s murder. The Saudi authorities have never denied this. As for the preacher and presenter Ali Al-Omari, who is part of the Muslim scholars movement considered moderate, he faces the death penalty for terrorism-related charges.
Some were arrested many years ago, under the late King Abdullah or when the current king, Salman, was crown prince and in control. They include the citizen-journalist Raif Badawi, who was sentenced in 2012 to 10 years in prison and 1,000 lashes for “insulting Islam.” Others are the victims of the crackdown launched in the autumn of 2017 by the current crown prince, his son Mohammad bin Salman (MBS).
Since then the list of detainees has grown longer in the course of several waves of arrests. In March 2018, three women who defended women’s rights – columnists and bloggers – were arrested and accused of endangering the state’s security and being in contact with foreign entities. Two of them, Eman Al-Nafjan and Hatoon Al-Fassi, have been released provisionally but remain charged and their trials have begun.
The detainees included two foreign journalists, the Yemeni Marwan Al-Muraisy and the Jordanian Abdelrahman Farhaneh, who were the victims of enforced disappearances. Their families have yet to receive any news of their fate.
Another journalist, the poet Fayez Ben Damakh, has simply disappeared. There has been no trace of him since September 2017, when he was about to launch a TV news channel in Kuwait. The Kuwaiti media say he was extradited to Saudi Arabia and imprisoned there.