Saudi Arabia Sentences Government Critic with 9 Followers to Death Over Social Media Posts
Saudi Arabia has sentenced a government critic to death for his social media posts denouncing alleged corruption and human rights
Saudi Arabia has sentenced a government critic to death for his social media posts denouncing alleged corruption and human rights abuses. The judgment was handed down against Mohammed al-Ghamdi in July by the Specialized Criminal Court, a secretive institution established in 2008 to handle terrorism cases, but has a history of conducting unfair trials that result in death sentences.
The charges against al-Ghamdi reportedly include conspiracy against the Saudi leadership, undermining state institutions, and supporting terrorist ideology, according to sources familiar with the case.
This case shines a spotlight on the severe crackdown on criticism expressed on social media platforms, even by accounts with a limited number of followers. Mohammed al-Ghamdi’s account on X (formerly Twitter) had just nine followers, as noted by the Gulf Centre for Human Rights.
Saeed al-Ghamdi, Mohammed’s brother and an activist living outside Saudi Arabia, revealed that part of the case against Mohammed was built on his posts criticizing the government and showing support for “prisoners of conscience,” including jailed religious clerics Salman al-Awda and Awad al-Qarni.
Human rights activists and organizations are deeply concerned about this case and the wider trend of suppressing dissent through harsh punishments. Lina al-Hathloul, head of monitoring and communication for the rights group ALQST, criticized the Saudi courts for their escalating repression and called into question the country’s reform efforts when a citizen is facing the death penalty for tweets from an anonymous account with minimal followers.
Saudi Arabia has faced international criticism for its frequent use of the death penalty. Last year, the country executed 147 individuals, and there have been 94 executions reported so far this year. While the exact mode of execution is often not specified in state media reports, beheadings have been a common method in the past.
This sentencing occurs against the backdrop of Saudi Arabia’s attempts to present itself as undergoing transformation under Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s Vision 2030 reform agenda. The country aims to transition from its previous closed-off stance to becoming a global tourism and business hub. However, such incidents raise serious questions about the state of human rights and freedom of expression within the nation.