Personal information

  • Sex: Male
  • Place of residence: Riyadh

Abdulrahman al-Sadhan is a humanitarian aid worker who was an assistant to the Head of the Saudi Arabian Red Crescent Society in Riyadh. He is currently serving a 20-year prison sentence, to be followed by a travel ban of the same length, for peaceful satirical posts he published on X (formerly Twitter). He spent most of the first two years after his arrest in conditions of enforced disappearance.

Arrest and jail information

  • Prison: Al-Ha’ir Prison, Riyadh
  • Date of arrest: 12 March 2018
  • Manner of arrest: Officials dressed in civilian clothes and believed to be from Saudi Arabia’s Mabahith secret police arrested AlSadhan from his work place at the headquarters of the Saudi Arabian Red Crescent Society in Riyadh

Trial information

  • Court: Specialised Criminal Court (SCC)
  • Verdict: 20 years in prison, to be followed by a travel ban of the same length.
  • Date of verdict: 5 April 2021


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

Violation details

ALQST has received information that during his detention al-Sadhan has been subjected to severe torture and sexual harassment including, but not limited to, electric shocks, beatings that caused broken bones, flogging, suspension in stress positions, death threats, insults, verbal humiliation and solitary confinement. Al-Sadhan’s health has deteriorated in detention, and he is now pre-diabetic, a condition he did not suffer from prior to his arrest.


  • 5 October 2021 - The Court of Appeal in Riyadh upheld the sentence passed on al-Sadhan, on 5 April 2021 by the Specialised Criminal Court in Riyadh, of 20 years in prison followed by a 20-year travel ban.  
  • 5 April 2021 - The Specialised Criminal Court (SCC) in Riyadh sentenced him to 20 years in prison, to be followed by a travel ban of the same length, on charges relating to his peaceful online activism.  In a trial marred by gross violations of international fair trial guarantees, including several hearings being held in secret, al-Sadhan was tried under the Counter-Terrorism and Anti-Cybercrime Laws, which are both frequently used to stifle free speech in Saudi Arabia. He faced spurious charges that included “preparing, storing and sending material prejudicial to public order and religious values", based on peaceful tweets published on his Twitter accounts.    
  • 3 March 2021 - Despite being informed by the authorities in February 2021 that he was not facing charges and would be released soon, al-Sadhan was brought to trial before the SCC on 3 March, facing charges relating to his peaceful social media activism, and which relied on “confessions” extracted through torture.    
  • 22 February 2021 - He was for only the second time allowed him to make a call to his family. The authorities informed him that he is not facing charges, and will be released soon.
  • 12 February 2020 - Following 23 months of enforced disappearance, with no news about his fate, he was for the first time allowed to make a phone call to his family. During the call, al-Sadhan mentioned being held in al-Ha’ir Prison, but gave no details about his state of health or general situations. Following the phone call, al-Sadhan was denied any further contact with his family for over a year, until 22 February 2021. 
  • 12 March 2018 - Al-Sadhan was arrested by the Mabaheth security forces from his workplace, the headquarters of the Saudi Red Crescent in Riyadh, without being informed of the reasons for his arrest or shown an arrest warrant. He was subsequently taken to an unknown location. For nearly two years his family had no information about his whereabouts or well-being.   

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