Amnesty International has lambasted Saudi Arabia for holding a Palestinian academic and his son in detention on unfounded charges for more than a year.
In a statement, the UK-based rights group said that the Saudi regime had held 81-year-old Dr. Mohammed al-Khudari and his son, Dr. Hani, in detention for more than a year now over baseless charges, the Palestinian Information Center reported.
“The two Palestinians have been subjected to gross human rights violations, including enforced disappearance, arbitrary arrest and detention,” Amnesty further noted, stressing that the pair were being held incommunicado and in solitary confinement.
“This concern has been heightened by the COVID-19 pandemic and the particular threat it poses to older prisoners and those with underlying medical conditions,” Amnesty added.
Khudari, who has been living in Saudi Arabia for over 30 years, represented the Palestinian Islamic resistance movement Hamas between mid-1990s and 2003 in the Arab kingdom.
He has held other important positions in the Palestinian resistance movement as well, but he has been inactive for the past 10 years due to his illness.
The academic is currently behind bars in al-Ha’ir Prison, some 40 kilometers south of capital Riyadh, while his son is detained in Dhahban Central Prison near Jeddah. They were arbitrarily arrested on April 4, 2019.
Shortly after their detention, Amnesty called on Saudi Arabia’s King Salman to order the immediate release of the academic and his son, citing his poor health condition amid the coronavirus pandemic, but all to no avail.
On Wednesday, the rights group once again called on the Saudi king to order the immediate release of the Palestinian academic and his son.
“Given the current COVID-19 pandemic and Dr. Mohamed al-Khudari’s poor health, we urge your Majesty to secure his release without delay. We further call on your Majesty to ensure these unfounded charges against Dr. Mohamed al-Khudari and Dr. Hani al-Khudari are dropped and that they are released. In the interim, ensure that both men are protected from torture and other ill-treatment and that Dr. Mohamed al-Khudari is immediately granted adequate medical attention,” Amnesty said.
According to the Palestinian Information Center, Khudari’s son, Hani, has no political affiliation. He completed his Ph.D. in computer science and is currently a professor at Um al-Qura University in Mecca, where he was arrested.
Back in March, Amnesty said Khudari and his son were brought before the Specialized Criminal Court (SCC) in the capital Riyadh as part of a mass trial of 68 individuals on trumped-up charges under the so-called counter-terror law.
Also in March, Hamas condemned the continued detention and prosecution of Palestinian figures in Saudi Arabia over their support for the movement, urging Riyadh to immediately release them.
Saudi Arabia’s repressive measures against the Palestinian resistance movement as well as those seeking to collect donations for people living in the Israeli-blockaded Gaza Strip come as the kingdom and Israel are believed to have clandestine ties.