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The New Arab

Saudi Arabia abducted Saudi critics, activists from Geneva: reports

Saudi Arabia and Crown Prince Mohamed bin Salman have faced criticism on human rights [Getty]

Date of publication: 11 November, 2019

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Hassan al-Omari was abducted by the authorities in October 2017 and Hassan al-Kanani in March this year, according to the Saudi-focused human rights group Prisoners of Conscience.
Saudi authorities kidnapped two Saudi activists from the Swiss city of Geneva, Arabi21 reported quoting Prisoners of Conscience.

Lawyer Hassan al-Omari was abducted by the Saudi authorities in October 2017 and activist Hassan al-Kanani in March this year, according to the Saudi-focused human rights group.

Prisoners of Conscience also said Al-Omari and al-Kanani were kidnapped by the authorities after receiving several threats warning them to cease their activities against Saudi Arabia.

Al-Omari has criticised Saudi Arabia's participation in Yemen's civil war and has called on his government to withdraw from the conflict immediately.

Read more: Saudi Arabia's crackdown on critics continues despite 'reform drive'

The Saudi and Swiss authorities have not commented on the abduction reports.

The kingdom has been in the human rights spotlight since Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi's killing, who was murdered inside the kingdom's consulate in Istanbul.

Despite the kingdom's best efforts, international criticism of Saudi Arabia's human rights record, including the gruesome murder of Khashoggi and a crackdown on female activists, has cast a cloud over Saudi Arabia and its crown prince Mohamed bin Salman.

The CIA warned at least three friends and colleagues of Jamal Khashoggi in May that their continuing pro-democracy activism has singled out them and their families for potential retaliation from Saudi Arabia.

Activists in Saudi Arabia continue to face severe repercussions, including execution and alleged torture, for their work.

Read more: Murder in the Saudi consulate: A year after Jamal Khashoggi's killing

A report published on the anniversary of Khashoggi's murder notes at least 30 prisoners of conscience are behind bars for their pursuit in fighting for freedom of speech, much like Khashoggi did as part of his journalistic career, with many facing between five and 30 years in prison.

Among those currently detained by the Saudi state are Mohammed al-Qahtani, a founding member of the Saudi Civil and Political Rights Association who called for the protection and promotion of human rights and provided legal support to families of detainees and Waleed Abu al-Khair, a lawyer who defended human rights defenders before his imprisonment.

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