Security forces in Saudi Arabia have briefly detained the brother of prominent Shia cleric Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr, who is facing a death sentence for political dissent.
Family members and Britain-based Reprieve advocacy group reported that Saudi police arrested Mohammed al-Nimr on Tuesday in eastern Saudi Arabia, stressing that they do not know the reason behind his detention. Mohammed was later released.
On October 25, Mohammed said in a message on social media that the Saudi Supreme Court and an appellate court had approved the execution of Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr, and authorized the Saudi Interior Ministry to carry out the sentence previously handed down to the eminent cleric.
The execution warrant has been reportedly sent to the Saudi crown prince, Muhammad bin Naif bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, who is also the first deputy prime minister and the minister of interior of Saudi Arabia.
The warrant will now be sent to Saudi Arabia’s ruler Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud after the approval of the Interior Ministry.
The warrant must be approved by the Saudi monarch in order to be implemented. The execution of the Shia cleric can be carried out by the Interior Ministry without any prior warning if King Salman signs the order.
Nimr was attacked and arrested in the Qatif region of Eastern Province in July 2012, and has been charged with undermining the kingdom’s security, making anti-government speeches, and defending political prisoners. Nimr has denied the accusations.
In October 2014, a Saudi court sentenced Sheikh Nimr to death, provoking huge condemnations and criticism in the Middle East and the world.
Ali Mohammed Baqir al-Nimr, the nephew of the prominent Saudi Shia cleric, has been also sentenced to death over his alleged role in anti-regime protests in 2012, when he was 17 years old.