Saudi reformist imprisoned after calling for change in kingdom

Saudi reformist imprisoned after calling for change in kingdom
2 min read
23 December, 2015
Saudi political reformist, Zuhair Kutbi, has been sentenced to four years in jail, given a five year travel ban and has been barred from media appearances for 15 years.
File Photo: Zuhair Kutbi is seeking for a constitutional monarchy in Saudi Arabia [Twitter]
Writer and political reformist Zuhair Kutbi has been sentenced to four years imprisonment after discussing the need for political reforms in Saudi Arabia on television.

He was arrested in July following an appearance on a pan-Arab satellite station where he revealed he had written an open letter to the king during the Gulf war asking for political reforms in the kingdom.

"For the al-Saud reign to continue" Kubti said in the interview which aired in June, "the government should be separate from the monarchy."

"The monarchy should be independent, as it is in Britain and Holland," Kubti continued, "the prime minister should be someone selected from the general public".

Kutbi faced trial for allegedly inciting public opinion, insulting the judiciary and offending symbols of the state.

On Monday, he was handed down the jail term, along with a five year travel ban, a media appearance ban for 15 years, and a hefty $26,600 [£17,900] fine.

His Twitter account was also deleted.

Since the 1990s, Kutbi has been imprisoned and fined at least three times for calling for a transformation in the country.

He has urged for a constitutional monarchy and the need to combat religious and political oppression.

Human Rights Watch have previously urged authorities to free the writer if there is no evidence for criminal activity.

The 62-year-old is the latest in a string of human rights activists, reformists, journalists, and dissidents to have been jailed in the Gulf state.