Saudi Arabia releases activist Essam Koshak after four-year detention

Saudi Arabia releases human rights activist Essam Koshak after four years in jail
2 min read
22 January, 2021
Saudi Arabia has released human rights activist Essam Koshak, but he will remain subject to a travel ban for four years.
Essam Koshak was denied access to a lawyer when he was arrested. [Twitter]
Saudi Arabia has released human rights activist Essam Koshak, after four years in prison. 

Koshak had completed his sentence following his arrest in January 2017, but will remain subject to a four year travel ban. 

He was originally called in for questioning in January 2017 by the Criminal Investigation Department at a police station in Mansour, Mecca. Authorities denied the human rights defender access to a lawyer and was not informed of the reasons for their arrest and detention.

On 27 February 2018, Koshak was sentence by a Saudi court for "inciting public opinion” over the conservative kingdom’s human rights record, and illegally supporting an end to the female guardianship system.

Prior to his arrest, Koshak was one of the country’s most prominent human rights activists, while his father was Secretary General of the Holy Capital, and a former member of the Shura Council.

At the time of his arrest, Human Rights Watch described Koshak as “an independent activist and computer engineer who has used social media sites such as Twitter to push for human rights in Saudi Arabia, including highlighting the repression of peaceful activists and dissidents and advocating their release.”

Read more: How Saudi Arabia's fear of feminism landed Loujain al-Hathloul in a terror court

Koshak was arrested at the same time as Ahmed Al-Mshikhs, co-founder of Al-Adalah Centre for Human Rights in Saudi Arabia, although Mshikhs was later released and no charges were brought against him. 

Although Koshak’s release was hailed on Twitter, supporters continued to question the grounds for his arrest and detention. 

“Was unjustly imprisoned. He was wrongly forgotten in prison. He got out of prison incorrectly, without songs, awards, or lights. Thank God for your safety Essam Koshak.” said one commenter

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