Posted on July 2020

Jailed Human Rights campaigners’ families beg Premier League to block Saudi Newcastle deal

The families of human rights campaigners held in Saudi jails have today written to Richard Masters, Chief Executive of the Premier League, with a personal plea that the Saudi-led purchase of Newcastle United is not allowed to go ahead while their loved ones remain in jail. The letter, organised by human rights charity Grant Liberty, comes as the trial of the state-sanctioned murderers of Jamal Kashoggi continues in Turkey, and is signed by the families of:

  • Loujain al-Hathloul (30) – a women’s rights activist who campaigned for women’s right to drive now enduring torture and beatings since her arrest in 2018
  • Abdulrahman al-Sadhan (36) – a Saudi humanitarian worker and an employee of the Red Crescent, held since 2018, who has been subject to severe torture
  • Aida al-Ghamidi (63) and her sons Sultan and Adil – held on trumped up charges since March 2018 because Aida’s son Abdullah is a prominent opposition leader
  • Dr Salman Alodah (63) – a widely respected Saudi scholar and campaigner for democracy, potentially facing the death penalty, after calling for peace on Twitter in 2017

In the letter, they write:

“As family members of human rights campaigners imprisoned in Saudi Arabia we believe it is vital you hear our stories before the Premier League makes a final decision on the Saudi Arabia Public Investment Fund purchase of Newcastle United Football Club.

“We are begging you to do the right thing – Saudi Arabia must not be allowed to buy its way into the Premier League while our loved ones languish in jail under the most dreadful of circumstances. They have been beaten, tortured, threated with murder and sexual assault, held in isolation – and we fear they could die at the hands of their captors just as many, including Jamal Khashoggi, have died before them.”

“Football is the global game and you operate its most popular league – you have a unique opportunity to demand change. Please stop the deal and join our calls for the freedom of all human rights campaigners held in Saudi prisons. “

Publishing the letter, Grant Liberty Chief Executive, Saladin Ali said,

“The treatment of human rights campaigners in Saudi Arabia is at odds with everything the Premier League claims to stand for. If this deal goes through the Premier League will be endorsing the subjugation of women, the arrest of humanitarian workers and the silencing of democracy campaigners.

“The families of these human rights campaigners are taking a grave personal risk in writing this letter. But bravely, they have chosen to act – it’s time for the Premier League to do the same.

“This deal sits with the Premier League at the very moment the trial of the state sanctioned murderers of Jamal Kashoggi begins in Turkey. The eyes of the world are on them. The league claims its guiding principle is ‘integrity’ – well, this is a test of that integrity. The Premier League should stop this deal and stand up for human rights.”


Grant Liberty is a British charity campaigning for the release of human rights campaigners imprisoned in Saudi jails.

The full letter, sent to Premier League Chief Executive Richard Masters is attached.

The letter is signed by family members of the following prisoners:

Mrs Loujain al-Hathloul (30) was detained on May 15, 2018 alongside 11 Saudi women activists that were held in detention without charge nor informed as to the reason of their arrest for over 10 months. She has been beaten and tortured and threatened with rape. She remains in jail awaiting trial.
Alia, Lina & Walid al-Hathloul, two sisters & the brother of Loujain al-Hathloul have signed the letter

For more information on Loujain

Abdulrahman al-Sadhan (36) is a Saudi humanitarian worker and an employee of the Red Crescent. He was arrested on March 12, 2018 by Al Mabahith (Saudi internal security) from his workplace at the HQ of the Red Crescent in Riyadh. For more than two years nothing was known about the whereabouts of al-Sadhan. On February 12, 2020 he made first contact with his family during which he informed them that he was in the infamous Al-Hair prison.

Areej al-Sadhan, sister of Abdulrahman al-Sadhan has signed the letter

For more information on Abdul:

Mrs Aida al-Ghamidi (63) is the mother of Abdullah al-Ghamidi, a Saudi political opposition figure who is now based in the UK. She was arrested with two of her sons, Sultan and Adil. The Saudi Government has given no reasonable explanation for their arrest, and it seems clear they were arrested solely because of their relationship to a prominent opposition figure. Aida is suffering from a number of chronic diseases including diabetes and high blood pressure, and has suffered horrendous torture in front of her son. Cigarettes have been extinguished on her body whilst her son was forced to watch.

Abdullah al-Ghamdi, son of Aida al-Ghamidi & brother of Sultan and Adil has signed the letter

For more information on Aida, Sultan and Adil:

Dr Salman Alodah (63) is a prominent and widely respected Saudi scholar and campaigner for democracy. He was imprisoned for sending a Twitter message calling for peace and reconciliation in the region. His colleague died in the same prison after being denied urgent medical treatment. He is suffering from ill heath yet remains in prison

Abdullah Aloudah, son of Dr Salman Alodah has signed the letter

For more information on Dr Salman Alodah:

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