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. 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 prime minister, the kingdom has become increasingly close strategically to Israel.
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 2022, 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. CPJ was unable to determine whether al-Suwian was facing any new charges, had appeared in court in 2022, or the status of the journalist’s health in prison.
CPJ emailed the Saudi Center for International Communication, a media ministry department in charge of public relations, requesting comment on the health and status of al-Suwian and other imprisoned journalists, but did not receive a response.