Saudi Man Sentenced to Jail for Calling to Overthrow Monarchy

A Saudi court in Riyadh sentenced a man to 15 years in jail followed by a travel ban for the same period for calling to overthrow the monarchy, local media said on Friday.

The newspapers did not name the man, but activists identified him as Mohammed al-Wadaani who in March 2011 appeared in a YouTube video calling Saudis to revolt against their rulers. One day later, al-Wadaani was seen protesting alone outside a mosque in Riyadh before being arrested by security forces as he carried a placard showing a map of the Arabian Peninsula under the slogan: “March 4 Youth.”

Al-Wadaani was charged with a series of crimes, including calling for fall of the monarchy, calling people to protest via YouTube, questioning the integrity of the judiciary, the possession of photos and speeches of al-Qaeda leaders in addition to documents undermining the state and its policies.

The semi-official al-Riyadh daily reported that al-Wadaani, who refused to acknowledge the court, did not show any remorse.

“I see no benefit of bringing me to court,” the newspaper quoted him as saying. “I continue to hold that the monarchy must be overthrown.”