Dubai: Eman Al Qah’tani, a leading rights activist, has been slapped with a travel ban allegedly for her reporting and tweeting on the trials of two leading Saudi rights activists, Mohammad Al Qah’tani and Abdullah Al Hamid, among other activists. Writing on Twitter she said that she only learned of the ban when she was attempting to board a flight to Istanbul and was stopped by authorities.
The two men who were on trial earlier this year are founders of the Saudi Civil and Political Rights Association. They were being tried for setting up unlicensed organisations and breaking their allegiance to the King.
Their trial was opened to journalists which was a rare show of transparency for the legal process in Saudi Arabia. However, the men were found guilty and were handed jail sentences of 10 and 11 years.
During the trial, Eman was live tweeting which allegedly upset the authorities and in April she announced she would stop tweeting to protect her family from reprisals by the government.
Broke her silence
She broke her silence when she recently tweeted about her travel ban.
Eman has received an outpouring of messages in her support by Saudis on Twitter.
Eman is an outspoken human rights activist and journalist.
She has drawn the Kingdom’s attention after expressing her strong support for the Saudi Civil and Political Rights Association.
Meanwhile, human rights activists in Saudi Arabia have confirmed that the Kingdom’s security forces have detained prominent academic Dr Mohsin Al Awaaji. It is believed that his political views, notably his condemnation of the ouster of President Mohammad Mursi, may have been the main reason, reports said.
Sources close to Al Awaaji recalled that he had recently called for the signing of a petition demanding Mursi’s reinstatement.
Additionally, during a programme on Al Majd TV, Al Awaaji called on Arab and Muslim rulers to carry out urgent reforms.
In June, Joe Stork, Human Rights Watch’s deputy Mideast director, said in a statement, “Sending people off to years in prison for peaceful Facebook posts sends a strong message that there’s no safe way to speak out in Saudi Arabia, even on online social networks.”
A specialised Saudi criminal court on June 24 sentenced the seven “government critics” for “allegedly inciting protests and harming public order, largely by using Facebook”, said the New York-based watchdog.
“Authorities did not accuse the seven of directly participating in protests, and the court failed to investigate their allegations that intelligence officers tortured them into signing confessions,” HRW added.
Several Saudi human rights campaigners have recently been imprisoned. Two women were jailed earlier in June for allegedly inciting a woman against her husband, after they tried to help a Canadian who had complained of abuse by her Saudi husband.