Saudi Arabian authorities have imposed a travel ban on 17 relatives of prominent scholar Salman al-Awda, who has been held for nearly four months, Human Rights Watch reported.
A member of the Awda family said in a statement on Sunday that a relative discovered the ban when he tried to leave the kingdom.
The customs officer reportedly confirmed to the family member that the royal palace had imposed the ban for unspecified reasons.
Saudi authorities arrested Salman al-Awda, a prominent figure of the Awakening movement, on September 7.
The family member told HRW that Awda was being held over his refusal to comply with an order by Saudi authorities to tweet a specific text to support the Saudi-led blockade of Qatar.
Instead, Awda posted a tweet on September 9, saying: “May God harmonise between their hearts for the good of their people” – an apparent call for reconciliation between the Gulf countries, HRW said.
Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt imposed a boycott against Qatar on June 5, accusing Doha of aiding “terrorists” and having close ties with Iran. Qatar denies the allegations.
The Awda family member cited by HRW said that authorities permitted Salman al-Awda only one phone call in October.
“Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman’s efforts to reform the Saudi economy and society are bound to fail if his justice system scorns the rule of law by ordering arbitrary arrests and punishments,” said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East director at HRW.
“There’s no justification for punishing family members of a detainee without showing even the slightest evidence or accusation of wrongdoing on their part.”
According to HRW, Awda was among the first of dozens of people arrested in mid-September as part of a crackdown against what Saudi authorities said were those acting “for the benefit of foreign parties against the security of the kingdom and its interests”.
Saudi Arabia carried out another wave of arrests in November against people they accused of corruption and held many at five-star hotels until they agree to turn over assets to the state.
Awda’s brother, Khaled, was also held after he tweeted about his brother’s detention, media reported. He remains in detention, according to HRW.
“If Mohammad bin Salman wants to show that a new era has begun in Saudi Arabia, a refreshing first step would be the release of activists and dissidents who have never been charged with a recognisable crime and should never have gone to jail in the first place,” Whitson said.
At least 1 injured in shooting at mall in Tacoma, Washington
French Convoy Faces New Protests Crossing Into Niger From Burkina Faso
At least 2 people have died during the first winter storm in the U.K.
South Africa says it is being punished for early COVID variant detection
Germany finds suspected COVID-19 variant case
Asia1 week ago
New Delhi’s air pollution still extremely high despite emergency measures
World6 days ago
Third night of violence in Guadeloupe as France sends police special forces
Middle East1 week ago
‘People will be harmed’ as Lebanon’s cash-strapped government cuts medicine subsidies
Canada1 week ago
184 people rescued by air, water from flooding areas in Abbotsford, B.C.
Europe1 week ago
German disease control head warns of ‘really terrible Christmas’ due to COVID-19
Health1 week ago
Merck’s COVID-19 pill partner in India sees a short-lived boom
Canada1 week ago
5th wave ‘a risk’ as Albertans gather inside, Hinshaw warns
Europe1 week ago
G7 nations condemn Belarus over ‘aggressive’ migration policies