Personal information

  • Sex: Male
  • Marital status: Married
  • Area of activity: Human rights activist
  • Place of residence: Riyadh

Khaled al-Omair is a veteran activist for human rights and constitutional reform. In December 2019, after months in detention without being charged or brought to trial, he smuggled out of his cell on a crumpled tissue the first of three “communiqués” demanding that he be released or brought to trial, contesting the legality of the Counter-Terrorism Law and Specialised Criminal Court, and demanding interviews with representatives of human rights bodies. He has staged several hunger strikes in support of his demands.

Arrest and jail information

  • Prison: Al-Ha’ir Prison, Riyadh
  • Date of arrest: 29 June 2018
  • Manner of arrest: Arrested by State Security when he went to answer questions about a complaint he had filed with the Royal Court against an officer who tortured him during a previous 8-year prison term. After hours of interrogation, he was handcuffed and taken to prison without explanation

Trial information

  • Charges: Charges including launching a hashtag on Twitter titled “the people want a new constitution”
  • Court: Specialised Criminal Court (SCC)
  • Verdict: Seven years in prison on charges including launching a hashtag on Twitter titled “the people want a new constitution”.
  • Date of verdict: 25 April 2021

Violations

  • Arbitrary arrest/ detention ,
  • Enforced disappearance ,
  • Denied contact with family ,
  • Denied access to a lawyer ,
  • Torture and ill-treatment

Violation details

Denied all visits for six months; torture allegations not investigated

Timeline

  • 16 August 2021 - The Court of Appeal increased his prison term from seven years to nine, to be followed by a nine-year travel ban. No reason for this ruling has been given.
  • 30 July 2021 - An attempt was made to kill al-Omair by another prisoner whom he had never seen before, and has not seen again since the murder attempt. His family are seriously concerned for him and fear that his life is in danger as a result of this gross neglect on the part of the Saudi authorities.
  • 25 April 2021 - He was sentenced to seven years in prison followed by a seven-year travel ban on charges including launching a hashtag on Twitter titled “the people want a new constitution”.
  • 08 December 2020 - He was scheduled to have his court session, in which the verdict was expected to be issued against him.
  • 08 September 2020 - He was brought before the Specialised Criminal Court (SCC) for his first trial session, with his feet in shackles, in which the Public Prosecution accused him of leading a campaign for a constitution and creating a hashtag on Twitter. He refused to respond to the Prosecution’s allegations, due to the denial of his basic rights and the lack of impartiality of the court, and was told by the court that if he did not respond then the accusations would be accepted.
  • 11 February 2020 - He announced the suspension of his hunger strike, after the Public Prosecutor’s Office informed him that his case had been handed over to it by State Security. He further stressed that he refuses to be tried before the Specialized Criminal Court (SCC), or to accept secret and unfair trials.
  • 22 December 2019 - He went on a hunger strike in protest against his detention without charge ( joining Waleed Abu al-Khair and Raif Badawi).
  • December 2019 - He smuggled out a message that he wrote on a piece of tissue paper, in which he protested against his detention without charge, and announced he would go on a hunger strike, along with other prisoners of conscience.
  • 24 October 2019 - He was informed that there are no longer any charges against him, any further investigations into his case, and any court hearings, but that he will remain in prison for an indeterminate amount of time.
  • 29 June 2018 - He was arrested by State Security when he went to answer questions about a complaint he had filed with the Royal Court against an officer who tortured him during a previous eight-year prison term. After hours of interrogation, he was handcuffed and taken to prison without explanation
  • 06 October 2016 - He began a hunger strike in protest against his continuing detention despite the expiry of his eight-year prison sentence.
  • 05 October 2016 - He was due for release, but continued to be held until 03 November 2016, after a 29-day hunger strike.
  • May 2011 - After an unfair trial he was sentenced by the Specialised Criminal Court to eight years in prison for rebellion against the country’s rulers and taking part in a demonstration. 
  • 01 January 2009 - He was arrested by secret police on a Riyadh street during a peaceful demonstration in support of Gaza.

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