5-8-2013By Christopher Plummer
Whitney Ellsworth Fellow
In April, Iman Al-Qahtani, a prominent Saudi journalist and human rights defender, finally relented to unyielding pressure from security forces and closed her popular Twitter account. With over 73,000 followers, Al Qahtani’s account was a significant source of information for many in Saudi Arabia.
For years Al-Qahtani has written about the treatment of human rights defenders in Saudi Arabia, attending trials of renowned dissidents, highlighting women’s rights issues, and shining a light on cases in which freedom of expression has been violated.
Security forces have been threatening Al Qahtani with jail time for a number of years, but the final straw was the targeting of her mother and other family members. It remains to be seen if whether she will earn the dubious title of first female journalist to be arrested by the Saudi regime.
Saudi Arabia consistently ranks as one of the most repressive countries in the world for journalists and bloggers. Human Rights First urges the Saudi Arabian government to end its systemic persecution of artists, writers, and journalists, so that they can exercise their right to free expression without fear.