Geneva - SAM Organization for Rights and Liberties expressed its great shock at the ruling issued by one of the Saudi Courts of Appeal to increase the years of imprisonment for the Yemeni citizen and resident in the Kingdom, "Muhammad Fadael", to 25 years, based on charges related to his posting on social media and accusing him of affiliating with "terrorist entities". The organization pointed out that the decision of the Court of Appeal showed an unjustified exaggeration in the punishment.
In its statement issued on Thursday, the organization indicated its condemnation of the ruling issued by the Specialized Criminal Court of Appeal on August 10, which ruled that the appeal submitted by “Fadael” was not accepted and overturned. In addition, he was sentenced to 25 years in prison after being accused of belonging to the Muslim Brotherhood, which the Kingdom classifies as a terrorist organization, and of communicating - according to the verdict SAM reviewed - with Al-Qaeda.
"SAM" indicated that the judgment of the Court of Appeal was an exaggeration in the application of the provisions of the law and a deviation from the recognized legal principles, which does not allow the Court of Appeal to deviate from the number of years of imprisonment approved by the Court of First Instance unless it is reduced, but this matter was not achieved. This proves that the Court of Appeal deviated from the generally accepted legal rule in an unacceptable manner.
The organization highlighted that the citizen "Fadael" had been sentenced on February 14, 2022, to seven years in prison based on several charges shown by a copy of the judgment obtained by SAM. These charges included "his association with terrorist elements in Turkey, his publication of what harms the kingdom, public security, the king and his crown prince on his social media accounts, and his association with the Muslim Brotherhood."
“SAM” stated that the ruling it had seen included accusing “Mohammed Fadhel” by the Saudi prosecutor of the above after examining the defendant’s computer and phone as the Saudi prosecution indicated that during their research they found "the accused joined groups on WhatsApp that incite against Saudi Arabia and the UAE, accusing them of arming parties that contribute to the killing of Yemenis.” The Saudi prosecution also pointed out that "the accused sent messages affecting the security of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia by communicating with people from the Houthi group through groups via the WhatsApp."
The indictment also included "pictures of former Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi, Osama bin Laden and other figures that the prosecution considers to have terrorist ideas and hostile to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia."
During his trial, "Mohammed Fadhael" responded to the Saudi prosecution's accusations by saying, “The prosecution changed the indictment more than once, which proves the ambiguity of the charges and the intention of the Saudi authorities to set me up and accuse me of what I did not do, noting that the accusations were extracted from him under duress, torture and pressure.” He added, "I have been deprived of communicating with my country's embassy and communicating with my family for a long time, which constitutes a violation of my basic rights guaranteed to me by Islamic Sharia and Saudi and international law alike."
Fadael also affirmed during his trial that the tweets and posts he was accused of do not belong to him, and that the account that posted those tweets and publications are for someone else, and that the matter is just a similarity of name. He also emphasized that the Saudi judicial authorities can check his mobile phone and make sure that those accounts do not belong to me.
"Fadael" stressed that "being in groups via the WhatsApp application does not mean his affiliation with these groups, especially since these groups are mostly news groups and are not secretive and that hundreds of individuals are joining them in order to know the latest news, and not, as the Saudi prosecutor said, is a way for me to communicate with parties banned by the Kingdom.”
Fadael appealed to the judicial authorities to be patient and achieve the truth and enable him to present all defences as he reiterated in more than one session that he was innocent and that these were groundless accusations. On the other hand, the Saudi prosecutor stuck to the charges he presented against Fadhael.
"SAM" indicated that the criminal court ignored "Fadael"'s claims about his allegations and sentenced him to seven years in prison, followed by the Specialized Criminal Court of Appeal, which increased the prison sentence to 25 years in force. According to the reasoning of the ruling, “Based on the foregoing, it has been proven to us that the defendant, Muhammad Mutahar Fadael, was convicted of seeking to disturb public order and national cohesion by challenging the justice of the King and the Crown Prince, supporting the terrorist Houthi group and Hezbollah, and insulting the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and a number of countries, in addition to spreading rumors and storing documents that harm the rulers of this country.”
“SAM” confirms, through its current statement, that such trials are mock trials that lack the legal conditions stipulated in international law and reflect a clear and serious breach of the accused's right to submit all pleas, communicate with his lawyer and family, and submit all papers proving that he was not involved in the charges against him.
The organization stresses that the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia was required, as a matter of priority, to verify the group of accusations it made against “Fadael” instead of insisting on these charges and increasing years of imprisonment despite his denial of them and his assertion of not owning the accounts through which posts and tweets were published that offend the Kingdom. This confirms the deviation of the judicial authorities from the application of justice and their efforts to establish the accusation on "Fadael" without respecting his basic rights to a fair trial.
“SAM” concluded her statement by calling on the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to reconsider the ruling issued by the Court of Appeal and the need to respect the basic rights of individuals to present defences and a fair trial, and the retrial of "Fadael" after he was able to meet with his lawyer and show evidence of his innocence during a fair trial, in addition to examining his behavior during twenty-five years in the Kingdom without any offences or violations of its laws.
“SAM” also called on the Yemeni government to intervene immediately and communicate with the Saudi side and work to release the Yemeni citizen, stressing that the negative role of the Yemeni official authorities has motivated the intervening countries in Yemen to increase the frequency of their violations without deterrence, which requires urgent treatment by the Yemeni government.