The Saudi Specialized Criminal Court on May 6, 2014, sentenced al-Jamal to five years’ imprisonment and a fine of 50,000 riyals (US$13,330), according to local news reports. Al-Jamal, a manager of the Al-Awamia news website, was convicted on charges of establishing a website that called for protests, disobeying the king, and disrupting public security.
Twelve days later, on May 18, 2014, al-Jamal was taken into custody to begin serving his sentence, news reports said. In September 2014, al-Jamal’s supporters wrote on Facebook that he refused to go to court or cooperate further with the judicial system, which he believed was illegitimate.
Al-Jamal had been arrested in February 2012 and held without charge. In March 2013, he was released without explanation, according to news reports.
Al-Awamia covered pro-reform demonstrations in the predominantly Shia Eastern province and was known for its criticism of the government, according to news reports. Al-Awamia was temporarily shut down after his arrest, the reports said. The kingdom has obstructed coverage of Eastern province protests, which call for political reforms and greater rights for the country’s Shia minority, CPJ research shows.
The director of the independent rights group European Saudi Organization for Human Rights, Ali Adubisi, told CPJ in 2014 that al-Jamal was held at the General Intelligence Prison in the city of Dammam. Adubisi confirmed in late 2017 that the journalist was still in prison. CPJ was unable to determine the status of his health.