Activists have revealed that Saudi authorities had started releasing prisoners of conscience not known to the public over the past few days. This comes amid tensions that have marred Riyadh’s relations with the current US Biden administration, who criticised the conditions of activists in the kingdom.
Saudi activist and blogger Sultan Alamer posted on Twitter: “Praise be to Allah, there are successive releases in Saudi Arabia of prisoners of conscience who are not famous and do hold dual nationalities.”
Alamer added: “This is joyful news. I hope this approach continues in the way to close the file of arrests aimed to suppress opinion and free speech.”
The Prisoners of Conscience Twitter account, which reports news of political detainees in Saudi Arabia, has documented the names of two activists who have been released. Writer Ali Al-Saffar and photographer Reda Al-Bouri were both released after having been arrested during the April 2019 crackdown.
Observers have said that Riyadh would focus during the coming period on releasing all political detainees, including journalists, writers and photographers. This comes following the Biden administration’s criticism of the kingdom due to the imprisonment and prosecution of journalists, culminating in Washington’s release of an intelligence report accusing Mohammed Bin Salman of giving orders to kill or kidnap journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
Since Biden came to power in the US, observers have claimed that Saudi Arabia has initiated a partial settlement process of the file of political prisoners who are not Islamists or sympathisers of Islamic movements. This led to releasing prominent activist Loujain Al-Hathloul and activists Salah Al-Haidar and Badr Al-Ibrahim, who both hold US citizenship.