NEWS FLASH: Samar Badawi, human rights defender & sister of Raif Badawi, arrested in Saudi Arabia
Today's arrest of prominent human rights defender Samar Badawi is the latest example of Saudi Arabia’s utter contempt for its human rights obligations and provides further damning proof of the authorities’ ongoing campaign to suppress all signs of peaceful dissent.
According to local activists, this morning Samar was arrested in Jeddah and transferred along with her two-year-old daughter Joud to a police station. She is believed to have been arrested at least partly in connection with her alleged role in managing a Twitter account campaigning for the release of her former husband, Waleed Abu al-Khair.
“Samar Badawi’s arrest today is yet another alarming setback for human rights in Saudi Arabia and demonstrates the extreme lengths to which the authorities are prepared to go in their relentless campaign to harass and intimidate human rights defenders into silent submission,” said Philip Luther, Director of Amnesty International's Middle East and North Africa Program.
“Just weeks after Saudi Arabia shocked the world by executing 47 people in a single day, including the Shi’a Muslim cleric Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr, it has once again demonstrated its utter disregard for human rights. Samar Badawi has been arrested purely for peacefully exercising her right to freedom of expression, she must be immediately and unconditionally released.”
This is not the first time Samar has been arrested or imprisoned for her human rights work, including campaigning for women's right to drive. In December 2014 the Ministry of Interior issued a travel ban on Samar to prevent her from travelling to Brussels for a human rights event.
Samar’s former husband, Waleed Abu al-Khair, is serving a 15-year prison sentence also in connection with his work protecting and defending human rights in Saudi Arabia. Hundreds of thousands of Amnesty International’s supporters campaigned for Waleed's release during Write for Rights 2015.
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