Abdullah al-Duhailan

Beats Covered:
Local or Foreign:

Abdullah al-Duhailan was one of several journalists arrested in April 2019 without charge. He wrote for a U.K.-based newspaper and hosted an online talk show.

Al-Duhailan was arrested April 4, 2019, according to The Associated Press and the London-based human rights organization Al-Qst, posting on Twitter.

Al-Duhailan wrote chiefly for the London-based newspaper Al-Hayat and hosted the talk show "Al-Markaz," broadcast on social media, according to his author page on Al-Hayat and his social media accounts. Al-Duhailan’s reporting for Al-Hayatincluded interviews with women who drove cars in defiance of Saudi Arabia’s ban on women driving, a ban that was lifted in 2018, according to a CPJ review of his writing.

His arrest was part of a wave of detentions in Saudi Arabia in spring 2019 targeting journalists and bloggers who had written about a range of cultural, economic, political, and social issues and who in many cases had not been active for years. The Washington Post reported that the detained journalists—along with other writers and activists detained around the same time—were not considered especially high-profile or outspoken.

Unlike other journalists detained at the same time, al-Duhailan’s writing focused more on local news in Saudi Arabia, although several articles touched on women’s rights activists.

As of September 2020, al-Duhailan was being held in Al-Mabahith prison in Dammam, according to Al-Qst’s website. According to Al-Qst’s website, al-Duhailan appeared before an unspecified court on September 30, 2020, alongside a number of other detained journalists and activists. The next court session is scheduled to take place December 21. Al-Qst did not say whether the journalists were formally charged during the September session.

CPJ was not able to determine if the journalist was suffering any health problems in prison as of late 2020.

In October 2020, CPJ emailed the spokesperson and the media office for the Saudi Embassy in Washington, D.C. for comment about journalists held in Saudi prisons, including al-Duhailan, but received automated messages that the emails were not delivered. The same month, CPJ also sent a request for comment to an email listed on the website of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s Royal Court, but received a message saying the address did not exist. CPJ also emailed the Saudi Ministry of Media and sent a message through the website of the Saudi Center for International Communication, but neither request was answered.