Court Drops Charges Against Saudi Activist

The Criminal Court in Riyadh dropped all charges against Saudi human rights activist Mubarak al-Zauir for lack of evidence, local news site Sabq reported Sunday. Al-Zauir was previously detained for more than one year after he met with Prince Mohammed bin Naif, then deputy minister of interior, to discuss the cases of his father and two brothers who were in jail.

“After being released almost one year ago, I was surprised when I was summoned to face this trial two weeks ago,” al-Zauir told the site. “I was confident that my position is sound.”

The government is accusing al-Zauir, 38, of disobeying the rulers, calling for illegal protests, inciting strife, disrespecting fatwas from the Council of Senior Ulema and attempting to change Islamic reality in Saudi Arabia. The academic who works as an assistant professor at Imam Mohammed bin Saud Islamic University in Riyadh was sentenced to 10 months in jail in 2004 after he gave an interview to Al Jazeera in which he asked the government to combat extremism in the country.