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KINGDOM OF SAUDI ARABIA:
POET FACES DEATH FOR APOSTASY IN SAUDI ARABIA

Update info:
1 Dec 2015
Country:
KINGDOM OF SAUDI ARABIA
Subject:
Ashraf Fayadh
Gender: m
Period:
5 Jan 2016
Distribution date:
1 Dec 2015
UA No:
265/2015

Ashraf Fayadh, a Palestinian poet and artist, has been sentenced by a court in Saudi Arabia to death for the “crime” of apostasy. He was denied access to a lawyer throughout his detention and trial. He is a prisoner of conscience.

Ashraf Fayadh, a 35 year-old Palestinian poet and artist born and residing in Saudi Arabia, was sentenced to death on 17 November. The General Court in Abha, southwest Saudi Arabia, found him guilty of apostasy after an appeal court overturned the original sentence of four years in prison and 800 lashes for violating Article 6 of Saudi Arabia’s Anti-Cyber Crime Law.

Ashraf Fayadh was first arrested on 6 August 2013 following a complaint by a Saudi Arabian citizen alleging that the poet was promoting atheism and spreading blasphemous ideas among young people. He was released the next day, but was rearrested on 1 January 2014 and charged with apostasy because of his supposed questioning of religion and spreading atheist thought through his poetry. He was also charged with violating Article 6 of the country’s Anti-Cyber Crime Law by taking and storing photos of women on his phone.

On 30 April 2014, the court sentenced Ashraf Fayadh to four years in prison and 800 lashes for the charges relating to images of women on his phone. It found the poet’s repentance in relation to the charge of apostasy to be satisfactory. The court of appeal, however, recommended that he should nevertheless be sentenced for apostasy and sent the case back to the General Court, which in turn sentenced him to death for apostasy.

Ashraf Fayadh was denied access to a lawyer throughout his detention and trial, in clear violation of international and national law.

Take action

Please write immediately in Arabic, English or your own language:

  • Calling on the authorities to release Ashraf Fayadh immediately and unconditionally, as he is a prisoner of conscience, held solely for peacefully exercising his right to freedom of expression;
  • Urging them to ensure that Ashraf Fayadh’s conviction and sentence are quashed;
  • Urging them to ensure that the death penalty is not used for offences which do not meet the threshold of “most serious crimes”, including for apostasy which, in addition, is not a recognisably criminal offence under international law.

PLEASE SEND APPEALS BEFORE 5 JANUARY 2015 TO:
King and Prime Minister
His Majesty Salman bin Abdul Aziz Al Saud
The Custodian of the two Holy Mosques
Office of His Majesty the King
Royal Court, Riyadh
Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
Fax: (via Ministry of the Interior) +966 11 403 3125 (please keep trying)
Twitter: @KingSalman
Salutation: Your Majesty

Minister of Justice
His Excellency Dr Walid bin Mohammed bin Saleh Al-Samaani
Ministry of Justice
University Street,
PO Box 7775, Riyadh 11137
Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
Fax: +966 11 401 1741 / 402 031
Salutation: Your Excellency

And copies to:
President, Human Rights Commission
Bandar Mohammed ‘Abdullah al-Aiban
Human Rights Commission
PO Box 58889, Riyadh 11515
King Fahd Road
Building No. 3, Riyadh
Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
Fax: +966 11 418 5101
Email: info@hrc.gov.sa