Jamal Khashoggi, murdered two years ago, may be the highest profile victim of Mohammed bin Salman’s crackdown on journalistic freedom, but he is far from alone. We detail 54 journalists, 46 arrested in the three years since MBS took control of the Kingdom, 22 in 2019 alone, of those one is dead (and there are unconfirmed reports of a second, Turki al-Jasser, profiled below), 9 have been released, 2 are on temporary release awaiting sentencing, and the remaining 33 are in prison.

“Human rights activists in Saudi Arabia are an endangered species. One by one they are vanishing – prosecuted, jailed, intimidated into silence or forced into exile – highlighting the authorities’ zero-tolerance approach to freedom of expression.”

Lynn Maalouf, Director for Research at Amnesty International’s Beirut office.

Journalists​ In Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia, which is ranked 172 out of 180 on the world press freedom index, has continued to arrest journalists this year. Although information emerges slowly from the Kingdom we know of at least one in 2020 – Aqel al-Bahili – as recently as April. The arrested journalists have typically written about politics, human rights or corruption and lean heavily on social media to engage with the public. Few were high profile at the time of their arrest – they were ordinary working journalists arrested under a wider crackdown on free speech.

In common with other prisoners of conscience in Saudi Arabia, journalists have suffered horrific abuse in prison. 7 have been tortured, 8 have suffered prolonged solitary confinement.

The victims of this abuse include:

  • Saleh al-Shehi a close ally of Jamal Kashoggi, who died on July 19 2020 immediately after his release. He is believed to have contracted coronavirus and to have been denied medical treatment until it was too late.
  • Eman Al Nafjan and Nouf Abdulaziz – women’s rights activists arrested in 2018, they have both have been sexually assaulted in prison, Al-Nafian has been further brutalised ahead of her temporary release; Abdulaziz has been tortured with electroshocks and remains in prison.

  • Bader al-Ibrahim, Mohammed al-Sadiq, Thumar al-Marzouqi, Abdullah al-Duhailan, Naif al-Hindas and Yazed al-Faifi – all arrested on 4 April 2018, they have been denied access to a lawyer and family members – none have been charged, yet all remain in prison. Bader al-Ibrahim, a dual US/Saudi national is known to have been tortured and placed in prolonged solitary confinement.