Saudi Arabia seeks death penalty for woman activist: campaigners

Saudi Arabia seeks death penalty for woman activist: campaigners

Israa al-Ghomgham and her husband are two of five Shia activists facing execution over charges relating to their involvement in protests calling for more rights for about two million Shia Muslims in the kingdom's Eastern Province, according to Human Rights Watch (HRW) and the Germany-based Saudi activist Ali Adubisi.

Human-rights advocates this week are sounding the alarm about Israa al-Ghomgham and five other activists from Saudi Arabia's troubled Eastern Province.

"Every day, the Saudi monarchy's unrestrained despotism makes it harder for its public relations teams to spin the fairy tale of "reform" to allies and worldwide business", she added.

The Saudi government put at least 100 people to death past year, according to Amnesty International.

In a statement, Freeland expressed dismay over Saudi Arabia's continued aggression towards protesters.

Among those being targeted is Israa al-Ghomgham, who Saudi groups say would be the first female human rights activist to be put to death in the Saudi kingdom if the execution proceeds.

Under the leadership of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, Saudi Arabia has sought to bolster its worldwide image with splashy business events and diplomatic outreach.

They have, however, been accompanied by a crackdown on dissent, with dozens of clerics, intellectuals and activists arrested in the past year, including women who had campaigned for the right to drive in the deeply conservative Muslim country.

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She was convicted at a recent hearing, representatives for Amnesty International and the European Saudi Organization for Human Rights said.

They are due to appear in court again on October 28, according to HRW.

Saudi Arabia's Specialized Criminal Court, set up in 2008 to try terrorism cases, has since been increasingly used to prosecute dissidents.

The advocacy group said prosecutors detained the activists on unrecognizable charges for crimes like protesting, chanting hostile slogans to the regime, trying to inflame public opinion, providing moral support to other rioters and filming protests and posting to social media.

Saudi court documents say Ms.al-Ghomgham documented and spread word of demonstrations through Facebook and YouTube using aliases.

At least 13 women's rights activists in Saudi Arabia have been arrested recently under what critics describe as a pretext of national security. Most of those detainees were released after reaching undisclosed financial settlements with the government. Ghomgham has been jailed for three years and denied access to a lawyer.

Ms Freeland tweeted: "Very alarmed to learn that Samar Badawi, Raif Badawi's sister, has been imprisoned in Saudi Arabia".

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