Verdict delayed in trial of jailed Saudi cleric

Verdict delayed in trial of jailed Saudi cleric Salman al-Awdah
2 min read
10 October, 2019
Sheikh Salman al-Awdah was among 20 people, including writers and journalists, arrested in September 2017 as part of a crackdown on dissent in the ultra-conservative kingdom.
Human rights groups have said the trial is a political reprisal against Awdah. [Getty]
The verdict in the trial of a prominent cleric Salman al-Awdah, who could face the death penalty, has been postponed until 30 October, his family said on Thursday.

Sheikh Salman al-Awdah was among 20 people, including writers and journalists, arrested in September 2017 as part of a crackdown on dissent in the ultra-conservative kingdom. 

Awda's family and Saudi media have said prosecutors are seeking the death penalty although the charge sheet has not been made public.

His family said last week that he was expected to be sentenced on Thursday, but his son Abdullah al-Awda commented on Twitter that the sentencing hearing had been "suddenly postponed" until 30 October.

Human rights groups have said the trial is a political reprisal against Awdah, a leading figure in a 1990s Islamist movement associated with the Muslim Brotherhood.

Amnesty International on Thursday called for his immediate release, saying he was "facing a death sentence for his peaceful activism".

According to Awdah's relatives, the Saudi authorities asked religious and other dissidents to publicly support Riyadh in its diplomatic row with Qatar, which he refused to do.

Read more: Fate of Saudi religious scholars on death row

Awdah's case attracted international attention in 2018 when Saudi Arabia's Public Prosecution levelled 37 charges against him, including "not praying enough to the ruler" and receiving text messages that "stirred discord in the region".

Saudi Arabia and several allies cut off all diplomatic and economic ties with Doha in June 2017, accusing it of links to Islamist extremists, a charge Qatar has categorically denied.

Agencies contributed to this report.

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