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Saudi journalist sentenced to 5 years in secret trial

Prominent Saudi journalist Ali Al-Dhafiri has been subject to a secret trial in the Kingdom and handed a five-year prison sentence.

Activists on social media networks circulated news saying that Saudi Arabia has held a secret session to try Al-Dhafiri – a presenter for Al Jazeera TV – sentencing him to five years in prison and banning him from traveling for ten years. Saudi Arabia claims he “communicated with Qatar” as justification for this sentence.

The activists also claimed that funds belonging Al-Dhafiri were confiscated and his family was forced to pledge that they would not talk about the issue to any media outlet. They were also threatened that their devices were under surveillance.

Al-Dhafiri resigned from Al-Jazeera TV two weeks after Saudi Arabia cut ties with Qatar and imposed an embargo on the Gulf state. His resignation was said to have come after threats were made to arrest him and his family by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman (MBS).

Al-Dhafiri posted on his Twitter account: “In Obedience to Allah and the guardians, may Allah protect them, and in loyalty to the homeland and in accordance with its policies and laws, I resign from Al-Jazeera channel and wish success to all my family and colleagues there.”

After his return to the Kingdom, Twitter activists noticed the disappearance of Al-Dhafiri’s account from the site. In September, Al Jazeera journalist Jamal Rayyan said that he had heard from a Saudi citizen that Al-Dhafiri was being held in the country’s prisons.