Saudi accuses activist of ‘disrespecting’ judiciary
DUBAI — Saudi Arabia’s public prosecutor on Monday accused prominent activist Waleed Abu Alkhair of “disrespecting” the judiciary and contacting foreign organisations, his wife told AFP by telephone.
Alkhair was summoned by the prosecutor in the Red Sea city of Jeddah who accused him of “disrespecting the judiciary system… contacting foreign organisations and signing a petition demanding the release of detainees,” some of whom are being held over terror links, Samar Badawi said.
If charged, Alkhair, a well-known activist and lawyer, could be jailed for between six months and a year.
He will appear again to “respond to the accusations” late in August, she said.
In March, Saudi authorities banned Alkhair from travelling to the United States where he had been due to attend a forum organised by the US State Department, he told AFP.
In February 2011, he signed two petitions demanding political reform in the kingdom.
Alkhair has also created a group on social networking website Facebook — Monitor of Human Rights in Saudi — which has more than 5,000 members.
According to the US-based Human Rights Watch, access to the group’s page on Facebook has been blocked.
Badawi is a recipient of the prestigious “Women of Courage Award” from the US State Department after she filed a lawsuit against her father challenging the kingdom’s rigid guardian system for women.
Under the guardian system, a Saudi woman must have the permission of her official “mahram” or male guardian — her father, husband, son, or another male relative — for matters such as travel, work and marriage.
Badawi, supported by her husband, has also filed lawsuits against the government demanding rights for women to vote and drive in the only country in the world where females are banned from getting behind the steering wheel.