UN panel urges Saudi Arabia to stop torture, free activists

Al Jazeera

A United Nations human rights watchdog urged Saudi authorities to free more than a dozen rights activists detained in the kingdom, alleging some had been tortured or mistreated during interrogation. The UN Committee against Torture, in a letter dated Tuesday and posted online, advanced "serious allegations" that activists have been detained without charge in Dhahban prison near Jeddah since May. It said activists - including Loujain al-Hathloul, Eman al-Nafjan, Aziza al-Yousef, Samar Badawi, Nassima al-Sada, Mohammad al-Rabe'a and Ibrahim Modeimigh - suffered "torture, sexual harassment and other forms of ill-treatment during interrogation". The panel called for their release and that of six other activists, including blogger Raif Badawi. Badawi has been publicly flogged for expressing dissenting opinions online and is serving a 10-year sentence handed down in 2014 for breaking technology laws and insulting Islam.

U.S. cites journalist Jamal Khashoggi's slaying as a rights abuse by Saudi Arabia

The Japan Times

WASHINGTON - The Trump administration used an annual report on human rights abuses to call out close partner Saudi Arabia on Wednesday over the killing of U.S.-based journalist Jamal Khashoggi last year. The State Department annual global human rights report said The Washington Post columnist was killed by agents of the kingdom while he was inside the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul. But it drew no conclusion as to who was responsible, despite the belief of intelligence agencies and lawmakers that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman ordered the murder. The report noted Saudi Arabia's Public Prosecutor's Office has indicted 11 suspects and said 10 people were under investigation but has not released more information. "At year's end the PPO had not named the suspects nor the roles allegedly played by them in the killing, nor had they provided a detailed explanation of the direction and progress of the investigation," it said.

Turkey seeks access to search Saudi consulate in Khashoggi case

Al Jazeera

Turkey has formally requested access to search Saudi Arabia's consulate in Istanbul as part of what Turkish officials say is a murder investigation into the case of missing Saudi critic Jamal Khashoggi. Officials in Istanbul told Al Jazeera they "expect [Saudi Arabia's] full cooperation during the investigation" into the fate of the missing journalist, amid reports that he may have been killed. Khashoggi disappeared after entering the Saudi consulate on October 2 to sort out paperwork, and Turkish sources told Reuters news agency on Saturday they believed he was killed inside the building in what they described as a "premeditated murder". On Sunday, Turkish Deputy Minister Sedat Onal summoned the Saudi ambassador to Turkey to the foreign ministry for a second time since Khashoggi's disappearance, sources at the ministry told Al Jazeera. Onal told the ambassador that Turkey expects Saudi Arabia to cooperate fully during the investigation process.

Journalists allege threat of drone execution by US

Al Jazeera

Washington DC - Two journalists who say they have been targeted by the United States have filed a complaint against the American government, accusing it of putting them on a "kill list" and demanding to be taken off it. The complaint was filed in the US District Court of the District of Columbia on Thursday on behalf of Ahmad Muaffaq Zaidan - a dual Pakistani-Syrian citizen who works for Al Jazeera and Bilal Abdul Kareem, an American who has freelanced for Al Jazeera. It accuses the US government of using information gathered via its Skynet surveillance programme, which has been used to guide drone strikes on "terror suspects". The plaintiffs accuse the United States of conspiracy to commit murder outside its borders and violating international law on targeting civilians. Filed by UK-based rights group Reprieve and the Washington DC-based law firm Lewis Baach, the complaint asks the court to declare the journalists' inclusion on the list illegal, and issue an injunction removing their names until they can review the secret evidence against them.

Khashoggi case: A 'chilling message to dissidents worldwide'

Al Jazeera

Istanbul, Turkey - Activists and journalists agree that the disappearance of a prominent Saudi journalist after a visit to his country's Istanbul consulate sends a "chilling" and "extremely distressing" message to dissidents and journalists from Saudi Arabia and all around the world. Jamal Khashoggi, a Washington Post columnist and critic of his government's policies, entered the consulate to take care of paperwork on October 2 but never left the premises, according the Turkish authorities. He needed the documents in question to be able to marry his Turkish fiancee, who was waiting for him outside the building on the day of his disappearance. Dana Ahmed, a Saudi Arabia researcher with Amnesty International, said that Khashoggi's case "sends a shockwave" through the Saudi Arabian dissident community, both inside the country and abroad. "[It] sends a chilling message to any dissident or human rights defender that they are not safe anywhere. It erodes any notion of safety from the authorities' repression of dissent," she told Al Jazeera.