Rice calls for Saudi activists' release

US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has arrived in Saudi Arabia just hours after criticising Riyadh for jailing political activists.

    Crown Prince Abd Allah is to meet Rice on Tuesday

    In a speech in Cairo on Monday, Rice praised the desert kingdom's "brave citizens" who were "demanding accountable government" before flying to Riyadh. 

    While acknowledging that some first steps towards more openness had been taken, in a reference to recent municipal elections, she said: "Many people still pay an unfair price for exercising their basic rights."
      
    "Three individuals in particular are currently imprisoned for peacefully petitioning their government - and this should not be a crime in any country." 
      
    Sentencing

    In May, activist Ali al-Demaini was sentenced to nine years in prison, Abd Allah al-Hamed to seven years and Matruk al-Faleh to six years, according to Hamed's brother Issa.
      
    The trio was among a dozen activists arrested in the kingdom in March 2004 on charges of demanding a constitutional monarchy. The others were released after pledging to no longer lobby publicly on the issue.
      
    They were accused of using Western terminology in formulating their demands. They also allegedly questioned the king's role as head of the judiciary.
      
    Rice is due to meet Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Abd Allah bin Abd al-Aziz and Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal during her stay, the latest leg of a tour that has already taken her to Israel and the Palestinian territories, Jordan and Egypt.

    SOURCE: AFP


    YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

    Visualising every Saudi coalition air raid on Yemen

    Visualising every Saudi coalition air raid on Yemen

    Since March 2015, Saudi Arabia and a coalition of Arab states have launched more than 19,278 air raids across Yemen.

    Lost childhoods: Nigeria's fear of 'witchcraft' ruins young lives

    Lost childhoods: Nigeria's fear of 'witchcraft' ruins young lives

    Many Pentecostal churches in the Niger Delta offer to deliver people from witchcraft and possession - albeit for a fee.

    Why did Bush go to war in Iraq?

    Why did Bush go to war in Iraq?

    No, it wasn't because of WMDs, democracy or Iraqi oil. The real reason is much more sinister than that.