RIYADH (Dispatches) -- A Saudi Arabian court has convicted 38 people of financing terrorism and declaring other Muslims non-believers, handing out sentences ranging from 30 months to 25 years, state-run Al Ekhbariya television reported on Tuesday.
The TV channel said one of those sentenced had set up a terrorist organization while in prison and others had labeled the Saudi government, clerics and security forces as non-believers.
In 2017, the kingdom launched a crackdown on dissent, arresting scores of clerics, intellectuals and activists. Some of them have been put on trial for terrorism-related charges.
In April, Saudi Arabia beheaded 37 men for terrorism crimes. The UN human rights chief said most of them were Shia Muslims who may not have had fair trials and at least three were minors when sentenced.
Riyadh has come under mounting international scrutiny over its human rights record since the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in October 2018 and the detention of women’s rights activists who are still on trial.
Ekhbariya did not give the nationalities or names of those convicted out of the 41 people in total on trial, nor did the TV channel provide details about when they were arrested.
It said the specialist criminal court in Riyadh, which was set up to try terrorism cases, sentenced one man to 25 years, another to 20 years and a third to 15 years. The rest received sentences ranging from 2-1/2 years to 12-1/2 years.
Saudi Arabia is an absolute monarchy where public protests and political parties are banned.
Saudi authorities kidnapped a Saudi lawyer and an activist from their residence in the Switzerland city of Geneva, the rights group Prisoners of Conscience has revealed.
Saudi lawyer Hassan Al-Omari was abducted by authorities in October 2017 and Hassan Al-Kanani in March this year with Amnesty International accusing Saudi of being behind the Al-Omari’s disappearance.
The rights group said a prince had also disappeared from Geneva prior to Al-Omari with authorities in Switzerland having no information about his whereabouts.
In October 2018, Saudi Prince Khalid Bin Farhan Al-Saud, who was based in Germany at the time, accused his country of trying to kidnap him. His revelation came just two weeks after Khashoggi went missing after entering the Saudi consulate in the Turkish city of Istanbul.
Over the past two years, hundreds of activists and human rights advocators have been arrested in Saudi Arabia.