Prisoners of Conscience

Saudi authorities isolate al-Awda and violate his rights

The Saudi authorities continue to isolate the prominent preacher Salman al-Awda and violate his most basic rights by not enabling him to communicate with the outside world.

Abdullah al-Awda stated that his father is still in solitary confinement, and that the authorities allow him every week or two to call for only one minute with the family.

Since last January, the Saudi authorities have lifted the secret session of the trial of Salman Al-Awda without enabling him to plead or to enable human rights organizations and the international press to attend the secret trial that is being held in the criminal court specialized in terrorism cases, where Al-Awda spends his days in prison in solitary confinement.

The court did not specify a new date for its convening, or a date for pronouncing the ruling, amid a state of “general confusion”, according to Abdullah Al-Awdah, son of Salman Al-Awdah.

Salman Al-Awda were arrested in September 2017 as part of a fierce campaign launched by the security services against hundreds of members of the religious awakening movement, one of the largest currents in the country, amid a pledge by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to eliminate this trend.

He did not return before the court until a year after his imprisonment, as the prosecution charged him with 37 charges and demanded his execution along with a number of other religious and academic preachers, including Awad Al-Qarni and Ali Al-Omari.

Al-Awda was subjected to psychological and physical torture while in prison according to what his family says, as he was prevented from sleeping, handcuffed inside the cell, and throwing food to him while he was handcuffed, which forced him to open food with his teeth, before the Saudi authorities transferred him to Al-Ha’ir prison for trial.

The children and relatives of Salman Al-Awda were prevented from traveling for fear of going abroad and demanding the release of their father in front of the international community and human rights organizations, but his son Abdullah, an academic who specializes in law and researcher at Georgetown University, continues to demand the release of his father or enable him to obtain on a fair and transparent trial.

Amnesty International asked King Salman to release Sheikh Salman Al-Awda, a day after his trial was postponed for several months.

The organization said, in a message addressed to King Salman on her account on Twitter last June: “The whole world is watching to see what will happen in the case of Sheikh Salman al-Awda.”

She added, “There should be no place for the death penalty in a kingdom that claims to have a reformist vision called 2030. Now release Sheikh Salman.”

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