Abdullah al-Hamid, 69, founder of the Saudi Civil and Political Rights Association (ACPRA), died after a stroke in his prison cell earlier this month, campaigners said.
The leading Saudi human rights campaigner has been jailed since 2013 for dissident activity, according to multiple rights groups, including Amnesty International. They had long called for his release.
“Dr. Hamid was a fearless champion for human rights in Saudi Arabia,” said Lynn Maalouf, Middle East research director at Amnesty. “Our thoughts are with his family and friends, who for the past eight years had been deprived of his presence as a result of the state’s inhumane repression.”
“He, and all other prisoners of conscience in Saudi Arabia, should never have been in jail in the first place,” Maalouf added.
Fellow Saudi activists have accused the Saudi authorities of not giving Dr. al-Hamid adequate medical treatment since he fell ill two weeks ago.
He faced multiple charges, including “breaking allegiance” to the Saudi ruler, “inciting disorder” and seeking to disrupt state security, according to Amnesty.
Other ACPRA members have also been imprisoned in the past, including another co-founder, Mohammad al-Qahtani, who was jailed for 10 years in 2013, Amnesty said.
Saudi Arabia has long faced international criticism over its human rights record. That criticism has grown since Mohammed bin Salman was named crown prince and heir to the Saudi throne in June 2017.
The murder of the Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi in October 2018 and the increased repression of dissidents have overshadowed what are seen to be efforts by the prince to modernise the economy and society. (Source: The Guardian)