Saudi columnist Saleh al-Shehi jailed for five years for 'insulting the royal court'

Saudi columnist Saleh al-Shehi jailed for five years for 'insulting the royal court'
Saudi authorities have jailed columnist Saleh al-Shehi, who was one of the few Saudi writers that regularly covered government corruption.
1 min read
08 February, 2018
Saudi columnist Saleh al-Shehi wrote for Al-Watan newspaper [Getty]
Saudi columnist Saleh al-Shehi was sentenced on Thursday to five years in prison for insulting the royal court, AP reported.

The Al-Watan columnist was detained on January 3 after accusing the royal court of corruption during an appearance on the TV show Yahalla.

Shehi writes regularly about the government's use of funds recovered during a purported anti-corruption drive that began in November.

At the time, Saudi authorities had arrested dozens of top officials and businessmen and held them in the five-star Ritz-Carlton hotel in Riyadh. The makeshift prison was reverted to a hotel last month after most of the detainees struck financial deals with officials.

At least seven other journalists are currently detained in Saudi Arabia, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ). The watchdog has said that the growing crackdown on dissent is part of Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman's attempts to consolidate power.

"Despite promises of reform and moderation from Saudi Arabia's emerging leadership, it is clear from Saleh al-Shehi's arrest that repression as usual continues," said Sherif Mansour, the CPJ's regional coordinator, last month.

Saudi Arabia ranks 168 out of 180 countries for free expression, according to the 2017 World Press Freedom Index.