Detained prominent preacher’s prison sentence increased to 40 years

Human rights circles expressed shock at the Saudi judiciary’s decision to increase the sentence of a preacher arrested on the grounds of opinion to 40 years.

The Court of Appeal in Riyadh resorted – for the second time – to intensify the arbitrary prison sentence issued against the famous detainee Sheikh Khaled Al-Rashed.

Human rights sources confirmed that the Court of Appeal harshened the sentence issued against Sheikh Al-Rashed for the second time and added another 17 years to his sentence so that he now faces 40 years in prison.

Sheikh Al-Rashed was arrested in 2005 following a sermon about the offensive Danish cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad.

The Prisoners of Conscience on Twitter strongly condemned the harshness of the arbitrary sentence against Sheikh Khaled Al-Rashed. It called on the authorities to release him immediately.

Human rights organizations assert that the harsh, arbitrary sentences imposed by the judiciary in bulk against prisoners of conscience in Saudi Arabia come in light of the disregard of the law, the absence of justice, and the violation of human rights and freedoms.

Sanad Organization for Human Rights condemned the ongoing arbitrary measures in Saudi Arabia against prisoners of conscience, calling on the judiciary in the Kingdom to respect human rights, consolidate the principle of justice in its policy, activate laws and work on all their provisions to preserve rights.

Later, tweeters announced the launch of an online campaign to denounce the severity of the sentence issued against the preacher Khaled Al-Rashed, who was imprisoned for 40 years and to call on the authorities to immediately and unconditionally release him after he spent more than 17 years in prison.

The severity of sentences against prisoners of conscience in Saudi Arabia is a judicial violation practised by the judiciary against an innocent detainee under the law.

Among the violations committed by the Saudi authorities against prisoners of conscience is the delay in detaining those whose sentences have expired and sometimes the harsh penalties that prevent their release.

Following a wave of lengthy prison sentences, 13 human rights organizations expressed their deep concern about the fate of prisoners of conscience in Saudi Arabia.

In a joint statement, the organizations indicated that the Saudi judiciary has recently issued an exceptional wave of lengthy prison sentences against peaceful activists, bloggers and others in Saudi Arabia for expressing their opinions.

They said this raises serious concerns about the fate of those arbitrarily detained and facing lengthy trials.

The organizations called on the international community to intensify efforts to pressure the Saudi authorities for the immediate and unconditional release of those detained for peacefully exercising their fundamental freedoms.

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