Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Trial in Saudi Arabia: not a word in the New York Times

"A court in Saudi Arabia sentenced 17 men to prison sentences of up to 30 years on Tuesday for sedition and other offences, a lawyer for some of the defendants said.  "Myself, their families and judges whom we know on the bench are all shocked," defence lawyer Bassim Alim told Reuters.  He added that the judge had promised a written verdict in two to three weeks, at which time a 30-day window for lodging appeals would be open to the accused - who have been described by Amnesty International as proponents of peaceful reform.  Justice Ministry spokesmen were not available for comment.  Most of the group of activists, academics and lawyers were detained in 2007 after they met in the Red Sea port city of Jeddah to discuss potential political change in Saudi Arabia, an absolute monarchy governed by a strict form of Islamic law.  Amnesty International described the men in its 2011 annual report as "advocates of peaceful political reform".  They were charged, among other crimes, with attempting to seize power, incitement against the king, financing terrorism, electronic crimes, money laundering and trying to set up a political party, Alim said before the sentencing."  But I recommend that you read the Arabic text.  They list a whole range of accusations and offenses and just in case this does not stick in Western capitals--it will of course--they throw in links with Al-Qa`idah.