Trial of Saudi activists Mohammed Fahad al-Qahtani and Abdullah al-Hamed continues in Riyadh. The hearing session Saturday morning was open to the public, and it was reportedly well attended by activists who came to show support to al-Qahtani and al-Hamed. The judge did not allow them to use their smartphones in the courtroom, but many of them tweeted their impressions after they left. From the tweets I read, the judge and defendants seemed to have resumed their debate over the legitimacy of the trial. In the end, the judge adjourned the trial for two more weeks.
Many people seem to believe by now that this whole trial is a mockery. “The judge, the defendants, the attendees, and observers, near and far, know that it is a mock trial and its verdict is already decided,” tweeted @agrni. “If the judge changed the verdict, he would be changed.” Al-Qahtani has previously said the trial is part of an Interior Ministry’s campaign targeting the activists. With a new minister at top, it would be interesting to see if MOI decides to drop the case.
Amnesty International urged the Saudi government in September to drop the case against al-Qahtani and al-Hamed “as it appears to be based solely on their legitimate work to defend human rights.” The rights group said if the two activists are detained on the charges against them it would consider them “prisoners of conscience and call for their immediate and unconditional release.”
The government is accusing the two activists of a dozen of charges, including the founding of an unlicensed human rights organization and questioning the legitimacy of the rulers.