Press Release — HRF to Saudi Arabia: End Harassment and Drop Charges Against Samar Badawi


Badawi is a prominent Saudi human rights advocate and the former wife of the arbitrarily imprisoned human rights lawyer Waleed Abu al-Khair. She was arrested yesterday and transferred to a prison in the city of Jeddah without charges. Badawi was released hours later but was ordered to appear before the Bureau of Investigation and Public Prosecution (BIP) the next day. This morning, Badawi was interrogated at the BIP before she was released on bail.

“The crackdown on human rights activists in Saudi Arabia has clearly intensified. King Salman’s government is arbitrarily attacking prominent activists, such as Badawi, to send a warning to Saudi Arabia's entire civil society,” said HRF president Thor Halvorssen. “Badawi’s arrest and detention for peaceful activism shows the Kingdom’s determination to shut down even the smallest expression of opinion. Badawi has been working to end the injustice faced by Abu al-Khair and numerous other human rights defenders. Any charges pending against her should be dropped immediately," Halvorssen concluded.

Badawi was summoned without explanation to appear before the local police station in Jeddah on January 12. Upon her arrival, she was arrested and transferred to Dhahran prison where she remained in custody for less than 24 hours. Badawi is allegedly accused of handling the Twitter account of Abu al-Khair. On January 8, a leaked photo of Abu al-Khair, taken in Al-Malaz prison in Riyadh, was published from his account. HRF and other human rights organizations have not been able to communicate with Badawi to confirm the charges, amidst rumors that the police confiscated her cell phone.

Badawi is currently facing an indefinite travel ban, which was arbitrarily imposed in December 2014 in retaliation for her advocacy work.

Human Rights Foundation (HRF) is a nonpartisan nonprofit organization that promotes and protects human rights globally, with a focus on closed societies.

Contact: Noemi Gonzalo-Bilbao, (212) 246-8486,

Read this release in Arabic here


Middle East