UK rights group urges Riyadh to release Palestinian, Jordanian prisoners

UK rights group urges Riyadh to release Palestinian, Jordanian prisoners
The Arab Organisation for Human Rights in the UK has called on authorities to release Palestinian and Jordanian prisoners detained in the kingdom for more than 20 months.
3 min read
15 November, 2020
The prisoners have been held since last year [Getty]
A UK-based rights organisation has urged Saudi authorities to immediately release Palestinian and Jordanian prisoners detained in the kingdom for more than 20 months for allegedly supporting "terrorism".

The UK-based Arab Organisation for Human Rights [AOHR UK] condemned a crackdown on 68 Palestinians and Jordanians living in the kingdom, confirming they were all detained without charge and have since been denied rights for family visits or contact.

More than one year later, the Saudi Public Prosecutor in Riyadh has claimed they had joined, supported and financed a "terrorist entity".

Most of the detainees were allegedly subjected to "forced disappearance, humiliation, torture and other forms of inhuman treatment" over the course of their imprisonment, according to the organisation.

None of them were represented by lawyers during the first court session, it added.

Their next trial session will take place on Sunday.

The statement called on global solidarity with their plight to help secure their swift release.

"AOHR UK confirmed that the trials against Jordanian and Palestinian detainees are of a political nature and are not legally based, while the authorities are attempting to give it a criminal nature to distort their image and justify the violations they were subjected to," the statement said.

"All the detainees are legally residing in Saudi Arabia with valid residency permit and have not committed any violation of Saudi law," it added.

An unnamed Hamas official cited in a Middle East Eye report in February said those arrested were overwhelmingly Hamas members, and had resided in Saudi Arabia for decades.

He also reported new arrests in February that targeted "everyone" with suspected links to the group.

The fear of being targeted in the kingdom has created a "situation of extreme incitement against Palestinians", a Palestinian resident of Jeddah, who spoke to MEE on a condition of anonymity, said.

The changing atmosphere in the country has led a number of Palestinians to leave the country, terrified of an imminent crackdown, the source added.

Hamas have tried to maintain a balanced relationship with Saudi Arabia despite the friction between their policies on a host of regional and international issues. 

Read more: Palestinian movement Hamas demands release of senior official detained in Saudi Arabia 

The crackdown of February this year coincided with the trial of Mohammed Saleh al-Khodari, a senior Hamas member, who was arrested in April last year along with his son, in a move the Palestinian group called "strange and reprehensible".

Al-Khodari's three decades long residence in Jeddah and close relationship to Saudi authorities, were insufficient grounds to spare the "ambassador of Hamas" reprieve, who has been held in solitary confinement in Dhahban prison for months.

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