RIYADH (Dispatches) – Saudi Arabia has jailed a Sudanese media personality for four years over tweets and media appearances critical of the regime’s policies.
Ahmad Ali Abdelkader was sentenced on 8 June, according to a report published on Tuesday by Human Rights Watch (HRW).
Abdelkader worked in Saudi Arabia between 2015 and late 2020, first as a media coordinator for the Asian Football Federation, and then in marketing at a Saudi supermarket chain.
In December, he left the country with a final exit visa, before returning in April on a new work visa.
Saudi authorities arrested him as soon as he arrived at King Abdulaziz International Airport in Jeddah on 19 April, according to the report. The last tweet he posted on his account was on 18 April.
The 31-year-old was detained in a Jeddah police station for 20 days, before being transferred to a detention centre near Mecca.
His trial consisted of two short sessions, in which he was denied access to a lawyer and the chance to defend himself, a source with direct knowledge of the case told the New York-based rights group.
Nine tweets and two media interviews were referenced by the Jeddah criminal court ruling.
In one tweet from September 2020, he predicted that Sudan would not normalize relations with the Zionist regime unless Riyadh did so too, because Khartoum “cannot revolve outside Saudi Arabia’s orbit”.
In another tweet from March last year, responding to Covid-19 measures in Sudan, Abdelkader accused Sudan’s military government of taking its decisions “from Riyadh and not from Khartoum”.
A tweet from three years ago accused Saudi Arabia of financing the Daesh terrorist group, and accused the regime’s media of being a “Zionist mouthpiece”.