A Saudi Arabian tribunal has upheld a seven-year jail sentence handed down to a pro-democracy writer over his alleged association with foreign media outlets.
The Persian Gulf Center for Human Rights (GCHR) said 40-year-old Nadhir al-Majid was told by the penal authorities three weeks ago that an appeals court in Riyadh had confirmed the sentence passed in January.
The tribunal also banned Majid from leaving the country after his release and fined $26,650, the center added.
“He faced many charges, including failing to obey the ruler, participating in demonstrations, writing articles supporting protests [dating back to 2007], in addition to having contact with correspondents of foreign news agencies,” it added.
The center said it believed that al-Majid’s treatment was “solely” related to his defense of human rights, in particular freedom of assembly, in the absolute monarchy.
According to New York-based Human Rights Watch, the writer had been arrested, alongside 159 others, back in 2011.
The arrests were mostly made in the kingdom’s Shia-majority Eastern Province, which has been the scene of protests over the past years in favor of expanded freedoms and release of political prisoners. In early 2016, the kingdom executed Shia spiritual leader Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr, fueling fresh anti-regime resentment.
Saudi Arabia has also sent troops to Bahrain to suppress dissent which has been brewing since 2011.
On Sunday, Bahrain indefinitely suspended the island’s only independent newspaper over a column addressing anti-government protests in Morocco, which is friendly with Manama.
The column in al-Wasat insulted a “sisterly Arab country,” the official Bahrain News Agency said. According to Bahrain’s Information Ministry repeated publication of the paper also “spreads divisions in society.”
“We are an independent newspaper, we publish stories covering both points of views,” tweeted its editor Mansour al-Jamri, who called the move “harsh and shocking.”