Son of disappeared Saudi Laureate met with hostility at Saudi embassy for delivering petition calling for his release

News 01.12.2023

Is delivering a letter demanding the release of your disappeared father a threat? Apparently, for the Saudi embassy in Stockholm, it was.

Abdullah al-Qahtani, the son of imprisoned Saudi Right Livelihood Laureate Mohammad al-Qahtani, went to the country’s embassy on Thursday, November 30, to deliver a letter and a petition signed by more than 900 people calling for the release of his father. He has been forcibly disappeared since October 2022 with no communication to his family.

Upon arriving at the embassy with a journalist and a team from Right Livelihood, Abdullah al-Qahtani was shouted at by embassy staff. Later, as he knocked on the embassy’s main entrance, he received no answer. Eventually, Swedish police arrived at the scene. At this point, al-Qahtani was allowed to enter the embassy escorted by two Swedish police officers.

Al-Qahtani spent about 5 minutes inside the embassy, where he delivered the petition to a diplomat.

Once outside, he said that he handed the letter to a diplomat, who told him that he shouldn’t have come with cameras.

“The guy [the diplomat] was actually a student of my father,” al-Qahtani said. “And he said, ‘You have to go through the appropriate channels. You’re our son; come to us.’ I said, ‘Listen, I am not the one who’s involved. My mom knocked on all the doors she could to get answers. And they never gave her any answers at all. This is what you guys forced us to do’.”

Al-Qahtani was visiting Sweden to draw attention to his father, a prominent Saudi activist who had been sentenced to 10 years in prison on trumped-up charges. However, just a month shy of his release date scheduled for November 22, 2022, he was forcibly disappeared.

His family has been unable to contact him since, even though they used to have phone calls with him twice a day before.

Now, a campaign organised by Right Livelihood, ALQST and MENA Rights Group is calling on Saudi Arabia’s authorities to disclose Mohammad al-Qahtani’s whereabouts, allow him to contact his family, drop all baseless charges and release him unconditionally.

Before going to the Saudi Embassy in Stockholm, Abdullah al-Qahtani addressed a press conference about his father’s situation and the practice of sportswashing in the kingdom.

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