Zuhair Kutbi

Zuhair Kutbi

Zuhair Kutbi

Independent journalist Zuhair Kutbi was arrested in January 2019. He had previously been imprisoned from 2015 to 2017. CPJ could not determine whether he was active as a journalist since his release from prison in 2017. His most recent arrest came amid a crackdown on journalists in Saudi Arabia, including several who had not been active for some time. Kutbi was arrested on January 10, 2019, according to Yahya Assiri, director of the U.K.-based Saudi human rights organization Al-Qst, and Qatari news website Al-Sharq, which cited a post from a Twitter account named “detainees of conscience.” It is not clear who is behind the Twitter account, which has been reporting on politically motivated detentions in Saudi Arabia since March 2014. Kutbi’s son, who had previously tweeted about his father’s past imprisonment, did not post anything about the arrest in 2019, according to a CPJ review of his account. The reason for the arrest was unclear. According to Human Rights Watch, authorities banned Kutbi from writing as one of the conditions of his release in 2017 from the earlier imprisonment. In March 2019, The Guardian reported that Kutbi was one of four journalists being held in solitary confinement and suffering from malnourishment, denial of medical treatment, and alleged torture. The “detainees of conscience” account tweeted on March 7, 2019, that Kutbi was denied treatment for cancer and diabetes. Kutbi was imprisoned from July 2015 to November 2017, on charges of "inciting against the state" and "insulting state symbols," according to CPJ research. The journalist previously contributed to the news website Makkah Online and his own website—which has since been taken offline—and often criticized the government. He has published several books on topics encompassing politics, geography, history, and social and philosophical issues, according to CPJ research. On June 22, 2015, he appeared as a guest on a talk show called "Fi Al-Sameem,” on a Saudi YouTube channel called “Khalejia,” where Kutbi criticized the country’s national dialogue as a waste of time and money, and said his remarks had been edited out of the broadcast of the most recent meeting. Kutbi was being held in Mecca Penitentiary, according to Al-Qst. As of October 2019, CPJ was not able to determine whether he had been charged or had been brought in front of a court, nor could CPJ not determine any details about Kutbi’s health status or treatment in prison.

Personal information

Name: Zuhair Kutbi

Name in Arabic: زهير كتبي

Date of Birth: Unknown

Gender: Male

Marital status: Married

Profession: Academic , Journalist , Writer

Place of residence: Mecca

Arrest and jail information

Date of arrest:10 January 2019

Manner of arrest: In a raid on his home in Mecca by police officers; he was beaten and humiliated at Mansoura police detention centre

Where held: Unknown

Trial information

Alleged crimes: 1- He has called for constitutional monarchy 2- Written against corruption and mistreatment of prisoners of conscience

Victim's charges: Stirring up public opinion; agitating and diminishing people’s respect for the regime but previously arrrested 6 times on charges such as inciting public opinon against the government - He was sentenced to 4 years in prison in 2015 to spend half of it in prison. He was also banned from writing for 15 years. He was released in 2017 but later rearrested in 2018 without any specific charges.

Court: Specialised Criminal Court (SCC)

Verdict: Unknown

Date of verdict: Unknown

Updates on trial: Unknown

Previous arrests:

Human Rights Violations

Violations: Arbitrary arrest/ detention , Torture and ill-treatment , Denied access to healthcare

Violation details: Use of excessive force during arrest and ill-treatment during interrogation


Reference 1: None

Reference 2: https://cpj.org/data/people/zuhair-kutbi/

Reference 3: https://alqst.org/prisonersofconscience/zuhair-kutbi

Reference 4: None


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