Saudi journalist jailed over criticism

Alaa BrinjiImage copyright

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Alaa Brinji wrote for several high-profile Saudi newspapers

A Saudi journalist has been sentenced to five years in prison for “insulting the rulers and inciting public opinion” in a series of tweets.

Alaa Brinji was also given a 50,000 riyal ($13,300) fine and an eight-year travel ban by the counter-terror court.

The court also ordered his Twitter account to be shut down.

Amnesty International said Brinji was “the latest victim of Saudi Arabia’s ruthless crackdown on peaceful dissent”.

James Lynch, deputy director of Amnesty’s Middle East and North Africa program, described the sentence as “utterly shameful”.

“Its [Saudi Arabia’s] international allies, who seek to collaborate on security and intelligence, have to confront the fact that, using the pretext of ‘counter-terrorism’, the government’s draconian crackdown has eradicated virtually all forms of peaceful dissent in the country,” he added.

Alaa Brinji wrote for several high-profile Saudi newspapers including al-Bilad, Okaz and al-Sharq.

He was arrested in May 2014 and initially held incommunicado, Amnesty said.

He was also accused of apostasy, a charge that carries a potential death sentence, but was acquitted due to lack of evidence.

Some of his tweets accused security forces of killing protesters in the kingdom’s predominantly Shia east, while others criticised the ban on Saudi women driving.

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