Saudi Arabia Seeks Death Penalty for Sunni Cleric Critical of Government

On August 17, Abdullah al-Odah, the cleric’s US-based son, wrote on Twitter that his father was being moved suddenly from a prison in the coastal city of Jeddah to the capital city, Riyadh. Abdullah indicated that a source in the prison had informed him of his father’s impending secret trial.

Saudi state media announced Tuesday that “a person affiliated with a terrorist organisation” had been sentenced to death, but did not name Odah, Middle East Eye reported. His identity was confirmed to the publication by Saudi human rights activists.

Odah, 61, faces 37 charges, including “leading a terrorist group” and “inciting public opinion against the ruler,” charges reportedly not declared at the beginning of the trial.

AFP reported Tuesday that the kingdom will also punish online satire that “disrupts public order,” as per an announcement by the public prosecutor.

“Producing and distributing content that ridicules, mocks, provokes and disrupts public order, religious values and public morals through social media… will be considered a cybercrime punishable by a maximum of five years in prison and a fine of three million riyals ($800,000),” the public prosecution tweeted late Monday, AFP reported.

​Odah, a major Sunni religious scholar who has authored over 50 books, once hosted his own TV show and served as editor of the popular website Islam Today. He is also extremely popular on Twitter, with more than 14 million followers. He’s acquired a…

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