Continued silencing of free voices in Saudi Arabia: 15 journalists missing since last September.
In news unveiled by Reporters without Borders, The Journalist Support Committee expressed deep concern over a series of journalists’ arrests in Saudi Arabia. Such actions will only increase media blackout, silence free voices, and restrict every form of journalistic and personal freedom.
The Committee was informed that on February 8, 2018, Saudi Arabia's Supreme Court sentenced Saudi journalist Saleh al-Shehhi to five years in prison in addition to 5 years of Compulsory residence after serving his sentence. He was accused of insulting the royal court when he, in a statement on a Saudi channel on December 8, 2017, and in a previous article in November 2017, stated that the royal court is part of the corruption and nepotism.
The journalist was reported to have disappeared in January 2018 through various accounts on social media but has stopped writing in Al Watan since mid-December.
Up until then, he was not officially arrested, although he is among the 15 journalists and bloggers "missing" in the wake of the wave of arrests that began in September.
According to the sources, some 15 journalists and bloggers were arrested during a clampdown that began in September. But until Saleh al-Shehhi was sentenced on Thursday, no arrests or possible charges were officially announced. The organization has drawn a number of testimonies suggesting that those who "disappeared" were arbitrarily detained by the authorities, but because of the strict secrecy imposed by the regime on these cases, and because some families refused to talk about them for fear of reprisals, it is still very difficult to determine the exact number of detainees.
The Journalist Support Committee condemns the arbitrary and secret arrests, calls for the speedy release of all detained journalists, and calls upon Organizations concerned with journalists and media professionals’ protection, to make journalists’ safety a priority. The Committee stresses the importance of supporting and protecting freedoms, the most prominent of which is the freedom of opinion and expression guaranteed by article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
Journalist Support Committee - Switzerland
February 13, 2018