Saudi activist lawyer Waleed Abu Al Khair was released on bail Thursday evening after he was detained overnight for hosting an “unauthorized” gathering at his house.
Abu Al Khair’s wife Samar Badawi told AFP that her husband was taken into custody for setting up “an unauthorized diwaniah,” or gathering place, and “due to his relations with the reformists and for hosting them in our diwaniah,” she said.
Human Rights Watch criticized the Saudi government for arresting the activist who is also on trial over two other cases. The government is accusing Abu Al Khair of disrespecting the judiciary and contacting foreign human rights organizations.
“Saudi authorities have sunk to a new low by arresting Waleed Abu al-Khair for hosting people in his home to exchange ideas,” said Joe Stork, acting Middle East director for HRW in a statement published online. “Saudi Arabia is putting itself forward to sit on the UN Human Rights Council in 2014, but it refuses to respect its citizens’ most basic rights.”
Shortly after his release, Abu Al Khair posted an update to Twitter to thank people who supported him.
“This journey is not over. It is only one round that they have not won, and they are preparing for more rounds,” he wrote. “I might be jailed soon as I was told, but freedom will never be jailed.”