Prisoner of October 2016
Name: Mohammed Fahad al-Qahtani
Occupation: Economics professor at the Institute of Diplomatic Affairs of the Saudi Arabian Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Country: Saudi Arabia
Current Situation: Serving the fourth year of his prison term at al-Ha’ir prison for his human rights activities.
Dr. Mohammed Fahad al-Qahtani is a writer, human rights activist and politician, who wrote in many of the Saudi newspapers. Al-Qahtan was on the 2012 Foreign Policy top 100 global thinkers list. He received his PhD from Indiana University in the United States, and was employed as an economics professor at the Institute of Diplomatic Affairs of the Saudi Arabian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Al-Qahtani started his human rights activity by taking part in signing a statement to the King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz condemning the secret trials brought against terrorism suspects, which was published in May 13, 2009. In October of the same year, he signed the founding document of the Saudi Civil and Political Rights Association (ACPRA), an independent human rights organization aims at raising awareness with regard to human rights. ACPRA had previously called on the king of Saudi Arabia to form an elected parliament with a greater powers and authority that would enable MPs to hold officials accountable.
Al-Qahtani was one of ACPRA team members in defending several human rights activists and politicians. While attending the trial hearing of Dr. Abdullah al-Hamid, for being a member in his defense team, he was ordered by the same court to face a long list of charges.
Al-Qahtani appeared before the Riyadh Specialized Criminal for many hearings that were marred by several legal violations, most notably breaching the right to a public hearing in addition to mandating investigators from the Criminal Investigation Authority instead of the investigative judges. On 9 March 2013, al-Qahtani was sentenced to ten years imprisonment and a further ten-year travel ban after being convicted of several charges relating to his human rights activities. Among these charges are: setting up an unlicensed organization, seeking to “undermine the state’s policies”, disseminating false information about Saudi Arabia to UN human rights mechanisms, and “inciting international organizations against the Saudi Kingdom”. The court also ruled to disband ACPRA and confiscate its property.
The Saudi authorities ordered the immediate detention of al-Qahtani at the court and upon pronouncing the sentence before being upheld by the Court of Appeal. The human rights activist is now serving the fourth year of his prison term at al-Ha’ir prison in Riyadh, where he has spent more than 1,300 days so far.
The biography of Dr. Mohammed Fahad al-Qahtani doesn’t feature an image of a well known Saudi thinker and academic, who is considered as one of the most prominent thinkers in the world. Rather, it sheds the light more on the political reform movements in Saudi Arabia and the dream of a group of reform advocates to build a democratic state and form an elected parliament monitoring the executive authority, besides the end of he Saudi Civil and Political Rights Association (ACPRA).
What can you do?
1- Post to Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud via his Twitter account “@KingSalman”; calling upon him to release Dr. Mohammed Fahad al-Qahtani.
2- Make a complaint to the royal court on the Saudi royal court website:
3- Send a letter to the Saudi royal court:
Postal code: 11111 Tel.: 00966114822222 City: Riyadh
4- Send an email to the UN Special Rapporteur on human rights
5- Publish images of Dr. Mohammed Fahad al-Qahtani and some information about him on your Facebook & Twitter accounts and use this hashtag #حريتهم_حقهم
6- Send to newspapers in your country some information about Dr. Mohammed Fahad al-Qahtani and the unfair sentence against him.