The high price of oil

A few days ago Saudi Arabia sentenced lawyer and human rights defender Waleed Abu al-Khair to 15 years in prison. Amnesty International has details.

The Specialized Criminal Court in Jeddah convicted Waleed Abu al-Khair of a string of “offences” including “inciting international organizations against the government” and “breaking allegiance to the ruler” among others. He will also be subject to a 15-year travel ban after his release.

He is the latest in a long list of human rights activists who have been harassed, intimidated and imprisoned by Saudi Arabia’s authorities in recent months.

Waleed Abu al-Khair has represented many victims of human rights violations. His former client Raif Badawi, was sentenced to 10 years in prison and 1,000 lashes in May for setting up an online forum for public debate.

So allegiance to the ruler is mandatory by law in Saudi Arabia? How cozy.

Waleed Abu al-Khair’s wife, Samar Badawi, told Amnesty International she was saddened when she first heard the news, but is very proud of her husband: “It is an unjust and oppressive court ruling and Waleed’s position of refusing to recognize the legitimacy of this court and to appeal the decision are honourable,” she said.

“These are 15 years of shame on the Ministry of Interior Courts. I am honoured to be the wife of this free and noble defender. History will expose these masquerades against human rights defenders.”

Waleed Abu al-Khair has been detained since 15 April 2013. He has been moved between different prisons and is currently detained in Briman prison in the coastal city of Jeddah.

With every car that starts…


  1. anat says

    Supposedly, with the expansion of Fracking, the US should soon no longer be dependent on Mid-East energy sources. Any chance of this leading to an improvement of the US record on pursuing human rights in the various oil-exporting countries?

  2. Félix Desrochers-Guérin says


    Since the US’s relationship with the Saudis (and pretty much every other disreputable Gulf monarch) began when the US was still a net exporter of oil and continues not so much because they need the oil, but rather because everybody else does, I’d say not a fucking chance.

  3. johnthedrunkard says

    Some years ago, the Canadian businessman William Sampson was the recipient of Saudi ‘justice’ when he was framed for an early terrorist bombing;

    Sampson’s statement after his conviction in a Saudi ‘Court,’ based on no witnesses or evidence except his confession—extracted by six weeks of torture and rape:

    ‘I refuse to acknowledge this court, deriving, as it does, its legitimacy from the teachings and precepts of a false prophet and a false god; and deriving as it does its authority from a country and culture that is politically corrupt, socially regressive, morally bankrupt, and genetically degenerate.’

    A wikipedia page on Sampson give a short account. Diplomatic authorities, especially those of Canada, were so craven and obsequious before the Saudis that they only inquired about Sampson’s torture, WHILE THE TORTURERS WERE IN THE ROOM.

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