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Amnesty International calls to release Sudanese activists in Saudi Arabia

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June 9, 2017 (KHARTOUM) - Amnesty International (AI) has urged the Saudi authorities to release two Sudanese activists warning against deporting them to Khartoum as there is a real risk they would be subjected to torture and other ill-treatment.

Elgassim Seed Ahmed and Elwaleed Imam have been detained without charge in al-Ha’ir Prison since their arrest on 21 December 2016.

“They were interrogated around eight times mostly about their social media activism following their support of the civil disobedience protest in Sudan in December 2016 on Facebook” according to the human rights group.

The rights groups added that “both men had last been interrogated in March 2017, when they were told by prison authorities that they are being detained and interrogated at the behest of the Sudanese authorities”.

“The security officers from the General Directorate of Investigations (GDI, or al-Mabahith) told them that they were now awaiting trial, after which they could face imprisonment or deportation to Sudan,” said Amnesty.

The rights groups pointed that the content of questioning and ill-treatment they faced besides the collection of their passports “raise fears that the authorities are preparing for their deportation to Sudan, where they would be at risk of additional arbitrary detention, torture and other ill-treatment”.

It further called on the Saudi Arabian authorities to release the two activists “immediately and unconditionally, as they are prisoners of conscience detained solely for the peaceful exercise of their right to freedom of expression”.

Elgassim Seed Ahmed has lived in Saudi Arabia since 1998 and Elwaleed Imam since 2013. Both men work in a supply company in Riyadh.

On 14 March 2016, the Saudi authorities released the Sudanese blogger Walid al-Hussein after 235 days in arbitrary detention. Al-Hussein, who runs the Sudanese opposition website Al-Rakooba, was taken by security agents on July 23 rd 2015 from his home in the city of al-Khobar in Saudi Arabia.

In 2005, the interior ministers of Saudi Arabia and Sudan signed a security pact in Khartoum which included clauses related to preventing any activities by residents or citizens on their territories that are hostile to the government of the other side.

Saudi Arabia is generally very sensitive to any foreign political activities on its territory.

In 2011, the Saudi government issued a decree banning any events of political nature without prior permission and warned of consequences to foreign nationals for violating this order which included deportation.

(ST)

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The Sudan Tribune editorial team.

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