The Saudi specialized criminal court issued an 8-year prison sentence against Ziyad Al-Sufiani, an journalist and Wikipedia editor, on charges that violate his right to express opinion, according to Women Journalists Without Chains (WJWC).
Along with Osama Khaled, a writer and programmer subjected to an additional 32-year prison sentence due to charges related to his right to express an opinion, journalist Al-Sufiani has been forcibly disappeared since September 2020.
Both Ziyad Al-Sufyani and Khaled Osama, who were working within a supervision team of Wikipedia, have been accused of providing “critical” information” about the persecution of political activists in the Kingdom, according to the Saudi website on Prisoners of Conscience.
The WJWC explained that the activists in Saudi Arabia are subjected to arbitrary arrests and enforced disappearance for a long period, followed by judicial rulings lacking even basic procedures of fair trial.
On her part, the WJWC founder said: "Working for Wikipedia and documenting arrests of activists and opinion writers should not lead Al-Sufyani and Khaled to jail," adding that "instead of the enforced disappearances and harsh sentences against them, the Saudi regime should first respect freedom of expression, and abolish the specialized criminal court, which was originally established in 2008 to look into terrorism cases, while it is now used to punish journalists, human rights defenders, and opinion activists.”
In a related statement, the organization indicated that the prison sentences, after two years of enforced disappearance, against the two journalists contradict the alleged social transformation marketed by the Saudi regime, demanding their immediate and unconditional release.
In this context, the WJWC has renewed its solidarity with all victims of arbitrary detention and enforced disappearance in Saud Arabia, and called on the relevant authorities to abandon the policy of repression and crackdown, and refrain from undermining public freedoms.
Finally, the WJWC urged the Saudi government to release prisoners of conscience and others who were arrested for reasons related their right to exercise freedom of opinion and expression, and to cancel the politicized judicial rulings against them.