Arrest of the teacher Asaad bin Nasser Al-Ghamdi and sentencing him to 20 years in prison due to tweets

 Arrest of the teacher Asaad bin Nasser Al-Ghamdi and sentencing him to 20 years in prison due to tweets

The Specialised Criminal Court in Riyadh issued a verdict sentencing the teacher Asaad bin Nasser Al-Ghamdi to 20 years in prison on charges related to freedom of expression on social media. In details, SANAD Human Rights Organisation obtained exclusive information indicating that the Saudi authorities arrested the teacher Asaad bin Nasser Al-Ghamdi on 20th November 2022. Born in 1977, Asaad is the brother of Dr. Saeed  Nasser Al-Ghamdi, a Saudi opposition figure residing in London, and the brother of Mohammed Al-Ghamdi, who was sentenced to death for tweets on a fake account on the X platform. Asaad was arrested in a brutal manner, including raiding his home and intimidating his family, constituting a serious violation of basic human rights, deliberate arbitrary detention, and forced disappearance against Al-Ghamdi.

Arrest Details

According to information obtained by SANAD organisation, during the arrest, Saudi security forces raided his house at night, confiscating all home cameras. They then stormed his house suddenly and spread throughout its premises. They closed the curtains, seized all electronic devices from everyone present, searched everything, including the rooms and various facilities of the house, even searching the individuals themselves. They ransacked the house, turning it upside down and tampering with its contents, confiscating some books and computers after searching them. They then tightly restrained Asad Al-Ghamdi and covered his eyes before forcefully dragging him away, all of which happened in front of his children and wife, causing them great terror, fear, and panic.

Charges against him

 The arrest of Asaad Al-Ghamdi stemmed from tweets on his personal Twitter account, which the Public Prosecution sought to shut down in the indictment, a measure which the court also ruled upon. Among the tweets considered as evidence against him was one where he expressed condolences for Dr. Abdullah Al-Hamid, the founder of the Saudi Civil and Political Rights Association )HASM(. He also criticised projects related to Vision 2030 and questioned their absence in the city of Jeddah. Additionally, he criticised the ongoing transformation in the Saudi regime and its abandonment of the old religious alliance. Based on these tweets, several charges were levelled against him, including:

  • Insulting religion and the King’s justice
  • Endorsing terrorist ideas
  • Attempting to destabilise the system
  • Endangering national unity

Trial and Verdict:

After a year and a half of detention, Asaad Al-Ghamdi was sentenced to 20 years in prison and banned from traveling. In the context of this trial, the Saudi authorities appointed a lawyer to defend him, but this lawyer seemed more like a security officer than a defense attorney. He dealt very harshly with Asaad Al-Ghamdi and instead of defending him, he affirmed that what was stated in the indictment would be fully applied, indicating that the judgments were ready and defense attempts were futile. Upon the issuance of the verdict, the lawyer adamantly refused to provide a copy to the detainee’s family, a typical behavior followed by state-appointed lawyers. Additionally, the lawyer would refuse to meet with his client’s relatives except after lengthy delays, and when he did meet them, he treated them with harshness and arrogance, exacerbating their suffering.

Violations Inside Prison

Asaad Al-Ghamdi suffered from continuous torture and deliberate medical neglect in Dhahban and Al-Hayer prisons. He was given pills that manipulated his mind and psyche, leading to a noticeable deterioration in his health and mental state. During visits, he appeared in a dazed state, repeating words without awareness, indicating the effect of the medications on him. He also experienced fainting spells that resulted in a broken tooth and a finger on one hand without receiving the necessary medical care. Furthermore, he was placed in solitary confinement in Dhahban prison for three months, where he was subjected to deliberate medical neglect and cut off from the outside world, not allowed to communicate with his family during that period.

Dr. Saeed Al-Ghamdi, Asaad’s brother, confirms that his brother’s arrest was unjustified, let alone the arbitrary verdict against him, adding that Asaad was subjected to a series of violations starting from arbitrary arrest, through enforced disappearance and being prevented from communicating with his family for a long time, not to mention deliberate medical neglect in prison, and ending with the unjust verdict against him.

There is information and data indicating that it is highly likely that Asaad was subjected to systematic torture inside the prison and intentional psychological and physical harm during interrogation sessions and inside his cell.

Further Torture and Violations

Asaad Al-Ghamdi was transferred several times from Dhahban Prison in Jeddah to Al-Ha’ir Prison in Riyadh for trial. His hands and feet were bound with iron and his head covered, and he was ordered to walk quickly, causing him to stumble and sustain severe injuries. During these transfers, he was handed over to Riyadh’s investigations in the same humiliating manner, then thrown into a small room filled with prisoners awaiting trial, suffering from inhumane conditions that even prevented them from using the bathroom.


The Saudi government continues to pursue anyone who peacefully expresses their opinions. The sentencing of Asaad Al-Ghamdi to 20 years in prison for exercising his natural right to freedom of expression is unacceptable, confirming beyond doubt the continued targeting of citizens by Mohammed bin Salman’s government due to their posts that do not align with the regime. This confirms the Saudi regime’s lack of intention to improve its human rights record.

We strongly condemn these grave violations suffered by Al-Ghamdi at SANAD, and call for the cancellation of his conviction and the unjust verdict against him. We urge the Saudi authorities to immediately release him and ensure his physical and mental safety, and to halt all forms of torture and medical neglect he is subjected to. We also demand independent investigations into these violations and the accountability of those responsible.

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