Saudi Arabia has arrested at least eight individuals, mostly intellectuals and authors, two resources such as London-based Muslim rights group ALQST stated, amid a two-year crackdown on free expression in the realm.
They had been taken from their houses in the capital Riyadh and the Red Sea port city of Jeddah a week from plainclothes police however, the motive was uncertain, said among those resources.
The Saudi authority’s communications office didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.
Riyadh denies having political offenders, however, senior officials also have stated observation of activists, and possibly detaining them is required to preserve social equilibrium.
Those arrested aren’t frontline activists, the sources stated. Some are intellectuals that have printed articles or appeared on tv while some are entrepreneurs.
Even as Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman touted economic and societal openness from the traditionally closed-off nation, the government rounded up critics, an attempt that gathered pace in Sept. 2017 together with the arrests of prominent Islamist clerics, some of whom might now face the death penalty.
An anti-corruption effort two weeks afterward netted top businessmen and senior officers. It had been thought to be a power play and shakedown of the crown prince’s possible political rivals.
In mid-2018, over a dozen women’s rights activists were detained as Riyadh raised a ban on women driving cars. Local press tarred them as traitors, and a court has charged a number of these with offenses including contacts with overseas journalists.
Public protests, political parties, and labor unions are banned in Saudi Arabia, in which the press is controlled and criticism of the imperial household may result in prison.