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Saudi court dissolves rights group, sentences activists to jail

(File photo-Saudi Arabia)

Press TV

A court in Saudi Arabia has ordered the dissolution of a human rights group and handed heavy jail sentences to two of the group’s members.

Riyadh criminal court dissolved the Saudi Association of Civil and Political Rights (ACPRA) on Saturday, with the judge saying the group had failed “to obtain authorization.”

The court upheld a six-year jail sentence for Abdullah al-Hamed, an ACPRA activist, and increased his sentence by five more years.

Hamed has also received an 11-year travel ban, which will prevent him from leaving Saudi Arabia for a little over a decade after his release from prison.

The Saudi court sentenced Mohammed Gahtani, another group member, to 10 years in prison and handed him a 10-year travel ban.

The court ordered the seizure of the group’s assets, and gave the two activists 30 days to appeal the verdict.

The two men were convicted of breaching the kingdom’s cybercrime law by using Twitter to lash out at the country’s political system and social life.

The men, however, said they would continue their “peaceful struggle” despite the verdict.

In June 2012, Gahtani said he was accused of “spreading sedition” and “rebelling against the authority” of the monarchy.

ACPRA says it has listed “hundreds of human rights violations over the past two years,” and helped people seek justice. It says some 30,000 political prisoners are held in prisons across the Kingdom.

According to the activists, most of the detained political thinkers are being held by the government without trial or legitimate charges and have been arrested for merely looking suspicious.

Some of the detainees are reported to be held without trial for more than 16 years. Attempting to incite the public against the government and the allegiance to foreign entities are usually the ready-made charges against dissidents.

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