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October 25, 2018 - Updated on June 20, 2019

RSF unveils portraits of journalists arbitrarily detained in Saudi Arabia

Reporters Without Borders (RSF) reminds the world that at least 30 journalists are currently detained in Saudi Arabia for the same reason that Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi was murdered in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul – for criticizing their country’s rulers. RSF unveils their portraits below.

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.


JAILED BEFORE 2017

Fadhel Al-Manasef, citizen-journalist and human rights defender

Raif Badawi, blogger, founder of the Saudi Liberal Network (an online forum)



Jassim Al Safar, photographer

Wajdi Al-Ghazzawi, TV presenter and founder of the Al Fajr TV channel

Waleed Abulkhair, founder of the Monitor of Human Rights in Saudi Arabia



Alaa Brinji, journalist



Turad Al-Amri, political analyst and commentator



JAILED IN 2017

Nazeer Al-Majed, author and journalist



Turki Al-Jasser, author and journalist



Ali Al-Omari, preacher, author, 4Shabab TV presenter





Adel Banaemah, preacher, author, 4Shabab TV presenter




Fahd Al-Sunaidi, commentator and Al-Majd TV presenter




Malek Al-Ahmad, editor of several media outlets and founder of Al Mohayed (The Neutral One)



Sami Al-Thubaiti, journalist with the website Twasul




Ahmad Al-Sowayan, president of the Islamic Press Association



Jamil Farsi, businessman and commentator




Mohammed Al-Bishr, journalist and commentator




Saleh Al-Shehi, Al Watan journalist



JAILED IN 2018 

Eman Al-Nafjan, a women’s rights activist who blogged as Saudi Woman

Nouf Abdulaziz, women’s rights activist and blogger

Hatoon Al-Fassi, journalist, university professor and women’s rights activist


Marwan Al-Muraisy, Yemeni writer and commentator based in Saudi Arabia

Nassima Al-Sadah, women’s rights activist and commentator

Sultan Al-Jumairi, journalist and columnist

JAILED IN 2019

Zuhair Kutbi, writer and journalist

Abdelrahman Farhaneh, Jordanian journalist based in Saudi Arabia

Bader Al-Ibrahim, doctor, writer and journalist

Mohammed Al-Sadiq, writer and journalist

Thumar Al-Marzouqi, writer, blogger and journalist

Abdullah Al-Duhailan, writer and journalist

Yazid Al-Faifi, local journalist

Nayef Al-Handas, academic, writer and journalist