Right Livelihood and partners launch #FreeAlQahtani campaign to demand Laureate’s release
For his peaceful calls for democratic reforms and respect for human rights, the prominent Saudi human rights defender, academic and Right Livelihood Laureate Mohammad Fahad al-Qahtani has been arbitrarily detained since 2013. To raise awareness about his situation, Right Livelihood and ten other human rights organisations are launching the “#FreeAlQahtani” campaign, demanding his immediate release by Saudi authorities.
In 2013, al-Qahtani was sentenced to 10 years of imprisonment and a 10-year travel ban on charges including “disobeying the ruler”. After years of inhumane treatment, he completed his sentence on November 22, 2022. However, since October 24, 2022, Saudi authorities have extended his detention and denied him any contact with his family and the outside world.
The #FreeAlQahtani campaign calls on Saudi authorities to immediately disclose al-Qahtani’s location and let him contact his family. It also asks that they drop all charges against him and release him unconditionally.
Drawing attention to the human rights abuses in Saudi Arabia beyond al-Qahtani’s case, the campaign also demands authorities create a free and enabling environment for all human rights defenders and allow them to pursue their lawful activities without restrictions or repercussions.
Al-Qahtani received the Right Livelihood Award in 2018 alongside the late Abdullah al-Hamid and Waleed Abu al-Khair, “for their visionary and courageous efforts, guided by universal human rights principles, to reform the totalitarian political system in Saudi Arabia.”
All of them have been subjected to lengthy prison sentences and ill-treatment for their human rights work. While serving an 11-year prison sentence, al-Hamid passed away from an untreated heart condition on April 24, 2020.