As part of an unprecedented Saudi government crackdown, prosecutor Mohammed bin Ibraheem Ateeq al-Subait is seeking to execute prominent scholar and reformer Salman Alodah for peaceful speech such as "expressing cynicism about the government's achievements" and praising the Turkish electoral system.
Al-Subait, a general prosecutor in the Public Prosecution's State Security Division, is using his prosecutorial discretion to intimidate reformers and activists into silence.
"Al-Subait is seeking the death penalty against my father because he tweeted," said Abdullah Alaoudh, Gulf Director at DAWN and a son of Salman Alodah."He is not enforcing law but rather silencing critics of the dictatorial Saudi government."
On September 4, 2018, working under the direct supervision of Saudi Attorney General Saud al-Mojeb, Al-Subait brought 37 charges against Alodah in the Specialized Criminal Court in Riyadh and asked for the death penalty, based on Alodah's peaceful work and social media activity on Twitter. Al-Subait and al-Mojeb have repeatedly requested and received postponements, letting many months pass between scheduled hearings, prolonging Alodah's unlawful pretrial detention.
Officials in Saudi Arabia's State Security Presidency (SSP) arrested Alodah in September 2017, as part of a crackdown on critics and independent thinkers, spearheaded by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. SSP officials have held the 63-year old Alodah in solitary confinement and, for months, incommunicado, and have deprived him of appropriate medical care.
Al-Subait also prosecuted prominent human rights lawyer and activist Waleed Abulkhair in October 2013. He charged Abulkhair with so-called security crimes, including "swaying public opinion" and signing statements "that harm the reputation of the kingdom." The Specialized Criminal Court in Riyadh sentenced Abulkhair to 15 years in prison.
Al-Subait received a promotion from Investigator to Prosecutor in June 2010.
"Al-Subait is enforcing prima facie unjust laws to punish dissent," Alaoudh said. "He should stop prosecuting individuals for the 'crime' of voicing independent thoughts."
DAWN requested a response from Mr. al-Subait by writing to the Saudi authorities on September 24, 2020, but no response was received by the time of publication.
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