Publication date: 22/07/2020

The unexplained death on 19 July of Saudi journalist Saleh al-Shehi, just two months after his unexpected release from prison, raises many questions, and calls for an international investigation into his death. 

Saleh al-Shehi, a well-known newspaper columnist, was arrested in January 2018 and put on trial with unusual speed before the Specialised Criminal Court, where he was charged, convicted and sentenced in a single session on 8 February to five years in prison. He was charged with “insulting the royal court” after criticising Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s so-called anti-corruption drive.

On 19 May 2020, after serving two and a half years of his five-year sentence, al-Shehi was unexpectedly released. The terms of his release are unknown, including whether it was to be permanent or temporary. In June 2020 al-Shehi was transferred to intensive care in hospital, and he died on 19 July. The Saudi authorities have reported that he died from Covid-19; however his death, like the circumstances of his release, remains highly ambiguous. 

Al-Shehi’s death follows that of the iconic reformer and human rights activist Abdullah al-Hamid, who died on 23 April 2020 as a result of deliberate medical neglect during his unjust detention as a prisoner of conscience. 

ALQST calls for an impartial, prompt, thorough, independent and effective investigation into Saleh al-Shehi’s death, led by international experts. Furthermore, the Saudi authorities should immediately and unconditionally release all prisoners of conscience.

Share Article
34 years jail for women’s rights activist Salma al-Shehab, who used Twitter to call for reforms
In the Saudi authorities’ longest prison sentence ever for a peaceful activist, the Specialised Criminal Court of Appeal on 9 August handed down terms totalling 34 years to rights campaigner Salma al-Shehab.
Saudi authorities must reveal what has happened to Shaimaa al-Baqmi
Sources have told ALQST that Shaimaa al-Baqmi, a 24-year-old Saudi woman, has been missing since April as a result of her family filing a malicious complaint against her.
Five years of ruthless repression under Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman
It is five years since Mohammed bin Salman became Crown Prince and de facto ruler of Saudi Arabia, on behalf of his father King Salman, on 21 June 2017.