Human Rights Watch urges Saudi to disclose whereabouts of detained activist


RIYADH (Reuters) – Human Rights Watch (HRW) on Wednesday urged Saudi authorities to disclose the whereabouts of a Saudi man with dual Qatari nationality whom Kuwait said it had deported to Saudi Arabia on May 12 at the kingdom’s request.

Nawaf al-Rasheed, a resident of Qatar, was in Kuwait on a visit. Kuwait’s Interior Ministry provided no further details of the case. Saudi authorities could not be immediately reached for comment.

Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt severed diplomatic and economic ties with Qatar in June 2017, accusing it of supporting terrorism — charges Qatar denies.

HRW quoted a relative as describing Rasheed as a poet and academic who was “not political at all”.

Last month, U.N. human rights spokeswoman Liz Throssell urged Saudi authorities to say whether Rasheed had been detained and why.

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has launched a number of economic and social reforms to open up the conservative kingdom. But there has also been a wave of arrests in recent weeks of people accused of communicating with organizations opposed to the kingdom.

Human rights groups have identified many of them as campaigners for women’s rights. Activists and diplomats have speculated that the arrests may be aimed at appeasing conservative elements opposed to social reforms.

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