(Beirut) – Qatari authorities should not deport a prominent Saudi human rights activist who would be at risk of a long prison sentence and possible ill-treatment if forcibly returned to Saudi Arabia, Human Rights Watch said today. The activist, Mohammed al-Oteibi, fled to neighboring Qatar in March 2017. He is on trial in Saudi Arabia based on charges related solely to his peaceful human rights work.
Al-Oteibi and Abullah al-Attawi, another Saudi activist, face a series of vague charges relating to a short-lived human rights organization they set up in 2013. Human Rights Watch has documented allegations that Saudi officials at detention facilities sometimes subject detainees to torture and other ill-treatment, including at detention facilities run by Saudi Arabia’s Public Security Department (police) and by the General Directorate of Investigation (al-Mabahith).
“No one should be sent back to face an unfair trial and possible ill-treatment based on peaceful human rights work,” said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East executive director at Human Rights Watch. “Qatari authorities should protect Mohammed al-Oteibi and decline possible Saudi requests to return him.”
Al-Oteibi told Human Rights Watch that Saudi Mabahith officials contacted him on April 19 and 20 requesting his location, and that he informed them that he is in Qatar. His next trial session is in Riyadh on April 25.