[JURIST] A Saudi activist was sentenced to 10 years in prison and banned from traveling abroad for an additional 10 years, a human rights lawyer said Tuesday. Abdel-Karim al-Khadar, a professor of Islamic studies from Qassim who was arrested in April 2013, was considered by many to be a leading activist in the fight against religious extremism and militancy. He was extremely vocal, posting videos online giving lectures on religion, women’s rights and coexistence. He was sentenced [AP report] on Monday by the Saudi Specialized Criminal Court, a court that specializes in trying suspected terrorists and human rights activists. He was convicted for disobeying the ruler, founding a human rights organization, supporting protests, violating Internet laws through his posts and accusing Saudi authorities of human rights abuses. Al-Khadar, one of the founding members of the Saudi Association for Civil and Political Rights [official website, in Arabic], is the third activist to be sentenced to prison time this week. Seven of the group’s founders are currently in prison.
Saudi Arabia has been criticized for many of its judicial procedures and treatment of human rights activists. Last month a group of UN human rights experts urged authorities [JURIST report] in Saudi Arabia to block the execution of Ali Mohammed al-Nimr, who was convicted of involvement in the Arab Spring protests when he was 17. In August Amnesty International (AI) reported [JURIST report] Saudi Arabia’s flawed judicial system has resulted a surge of executions following unfair trials. According to AI, 175 people have been executed over the past 12 months with an average of one person put to death every two days. In June a Saudi court upheld [JURIST report] blogger Raif Badawi’s sentence of 10 years in prison and 1,000 lashes for “insulting Islam through electronic channels.” In January a Saudi judge sentenced [JURIST report] prominent human rights lawyer Walid Abu al-Khair to an additional five years in jail after he refused to show remorse for “showing disrespect” to authorities and creating an unauthorized association.