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Saudi Arabia sentences rights activist to 15 years' jail: Relatives

Published on Jul 7, 2014 12:38 AM

DUBAI (AFP) - A Saudi court on Sunday sentenced to 15 years' jail a prominent rights lawyer described by Amnesty as a prisoner of conscience, relatives said in a statement posted on Twitter.

The tweet said that Waleed Abulkhair, who has had many run-ins with the authorities over his activism and for allegedly insulting authorities, was also banned from travelling abroad for 15 years and fined 200,000 riyals (S$66,500). Abulkhair, who has been under arrest since April 16, contested the verdict in court, according to the tweet.

On bail for having held unauthorised meetings of reformists, Abulkhair was ordered to be put under arrest as he attended a fifth hearing, accused of insulting the authorities in the ultra-conservative kingdom. His wife Samar Badawi announced his arrest the next day and said the court did not give her a reason for detaining him.

Rights group Amnesty International at the time called for his immediate release, saying he was being clearly punished "for his work protecting and defending human rights". "He is a prisoner of conscience and must be released immediately and unconditionally," said Amnesty's Mr Said Boumedouha.

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