Saudi authorities have forcibly arrested two dissidents, as a brutal crackdown led by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman against clerics, intellectuals and human rights campaigners widens in the ultra-conservative kingdom.
The Prisoners of Conscience, an independent non-governmental organization advocating human rights in Saudi Arabia, announced in a post on its official Twitter page on Monday that attorney Dr. Hassan al-Amri and activist Hassan al-Kinani had fallen prey to state-directed and extra-territorial kidnapping, while spending time in Geneva, Switzerland.
It added that Kinani was abducted by suspected Saudi agents in March 2019, and he has not been heard of ever since while Amri has been missing since October 2017. Both men had on occasions received threats for their political activism.
Saudi Arabia has stepped up politically-motivated arrests, prosecution and conviction of peaceful dissident writers and human rights campaigners.
Saudi officials have also intensified crackdown in the country’s Shia-populated Eastern Province.
Eastern Province has been the scene of peaceful demonstrations since February 2011. Protesters have been demanding reforms, freedom of expression, the release of political prisoners, and an end to economic and religious discrimination against the oil-rich region.
The protests have been met with a heavy-handed crackdown by the regime, with regime forces increasing security measures across the province.
Over the past years, Riyadh has also redefined its anti-terrorism laws to target activism.
In January 2016, Saudi authorities executed Shia cleric Sheikh Nimr Baqir al-Nimr, who was an outspoken critic of the Riyadh regime. Nimr had been arrested in Qatif, Eastern Province, in 2012.