Saudi Arabia detains Shia cleric for espionage: Report
Iran Press TV
Thu May 23, 2013 1:22PM GMT
Saudi security forces have arrested another Shia Muslim cleric in the country on charges of espionage for Iran.
Sheikh Hassan al-Ziyad was detained earlier this week without any reason when he had referred to the Passport Office to get his family's passports renewed.
Ziyad's arbitrary arrest has drawn anger from his followers, who say he was not involved in any anti-regime activities and dedicated his time only to instruction.
Saudi forces often arrest clerics travelling between Saudi Arabia and Iran, and charge them with espionage for Tehran - an outdated policy that has lost its luster.
On July 8, 2012, Saudi forces attacked, injured and arrested prominent Shia cleric Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr en route to his house in the Qatif region of Eastern Province.
The arrest sparked protests in the oil-rich province. The cleric appeared before court on March 26 for the first time since his arrest. His family members say he has been severely tortured in jail and denied medical care by prison authorities.
Saudi prosecutors are seeking the death penalty for Sheikh Nimr.
Since February 2011, protesters have held demonstrations on an almost regular basis in Saudi Arabia, mainly in the Qatif region and the town of Awamiyah in Eastern Province, primarily calling for the release of all political prisoners, freedom of expression and assembly, and an end to widespread discrimination.
However, the demonstrations turned into protests against the repressive Al Saud regime, especially after November 2011, when Saudi security forces killed five protesters and injured many others in the province.
Saudi regime forces have also arrested dozens of people.
According to Human Rights Watch, the Saudi regime "routinely represses expression critical of the government."
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