Ahmed al-Suwian, chairman of the board of Al-Bayan magazine and of the Islamic Press Association, was arrested in 2017, one of several religious figures swept up in Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s crackdown on the press. He was sentenced to three years in prison, but CPJ has been unable to determine on what charge; he remains detained beyond the end of his sentence.
Al-Suwian is chairman of the board of Al-Bayan magazine and of the Islamic Press Association, according to Qatari-based Al-Jazeera. According to a CPJ review of Al-Bayan’s website, the magazine covered domestic, regional, and international politics largely in line with the views of the Saudi establishment. However, the magazine also published pieces critical of Israel and its policies toward the Palestinians and in the region. Under Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman, who is also Saudi Arabia’s minister of defense, the kingdom has become increasingly close strategically to Israel, according to news reports.
As of late 2021, CPJ was not able to contact Al-Bayan for comment due to the contact page on the publication’s website being offline.
On September 3, 2020, a specialized criminal court in Riyadh sentenced al-Suwian to three years in prison, according to Saudi-focused, London-based human rights organization Al-Qst. According to Al-Qst he was charged alongside at least five other defendants, including journalist Fahd al-Sunaidi. CPJ was unable to determine for what charges al-Suwain was sentenced.
As of September 2021, al-Suwian was still imprisoned beyond the length of his sentence which, counting time already served, should have ended in September 2020, Al-Qst Deputy Director Josh Cooper told CPJ in an email. Cooper did not have any updates on whether al-Suwian was facing any new charges, had appeared in court in 2021, or the status of the journalist’s health in prison.
In September 2021, CPJ emailed the Saudi Center for International Communication, a department in charge public relations housed in the media ministry, requesting comment on the health and status of al-Suwian and other imprisoned journalists, but did not receive a response.