Turki Al Hamad Image Credit: Supplied

Riyadh: Saudi authorities on Wednesday freed liberal writer Turki Al Hamad who has been held without trial since December over comments posted on Twitter deemed insulting to Islam, a rights activist said.

Hamad, a novelist and a political commentator, “returned home this morning,” lawyer Walid Abulkhair told AFP.

He said the writer “has not been put on trial, and has not faced any charges.”

Hamad was arrested on the orders of Interior Minister Prince Mohammad Bin Nayef Bin Abdel Aziz, who was tipped off by a religious organisation, for alleged insults to Islam he made on Twitter, his family said on December 24.

The comments he posted had attacked radical Islamists he said were twisting the Prophet Mohammed’s (PBUH) “message of love,” and what he described as “a neo-Nazism which is on the rise in the Arab world - Islamic extremism”.

The postings provoked fierce debate on social networking sites in Saudi Arabia between his supporters and detractors.

In January, some 500 people, including Saudi intellectuals, signed a petition urging Saudi Crown Prince Salman Bin Abdul Aziz, to order the release of Al Hamad.