Nadhir al-Majid is serving a seven-year sentence in relation to an opinion article penned for an Arabic-language magazine defending protests in Saudi Arabia’s Eastern Province city of Al-Qatif. He was detained in 2017 on the same day he was convicted.
On January 18, 2017, a Riyadh court convicted al-Majid of "slandering the ruler and breaking allegiance with him," and "sending a group of electronic messages to a number of media outlets and satellite TV channels and human rights organizations," according to news reports. The court sentenced the columnist to seven years in prison, a subsequent seven-year travel ban, and a fine of 100,000 Saudi riyals (US$26,662), according to news reports.
Human Rights Watch and the Saudi-focused human rights organization Al-Qst both reported that he was detained the same day he was convicted. The Gulf Centre for Human Rights reported that he was transferred from Al-Hair prison in Riyadh to the General Intelligence Prison in Dammam on March 21, 2017.
The charges relate to an April 2, 2011, opinion piece that al-Majid published in Al-Mothaqaf, an Australia-based, Arabic-language magazine. The column, headlined “I protest, therefore I am,” supported the right to protest amid calls for a "Saudi Day of Anger" in the predominantly Shia Muslim eastern Saudi city of Al-Qatif, according to Human Rights Watch and Front Line Defenders.
The journalist had been imprisoned before. Security forces arrested al-Majid on April 13, 2011, at the school where he worked in Al-Khobar, according to news reports. Agents from Saudi Arabia’s General Investigations Department raided his house the same day, and confiscated his laptop and other belongings, according to reports. Authorities kept al-Majid in detention for the next 15 months, five of which he spent in solitary confinement, according to the news reports and the Arab Network for Human Rights Information, a Cairo-based human rights organization. On July 26, 2012, a court ordered his release, pending trial, according to news reports.
According to the Gulf Centre for Human Rights, al-Majid chose to stand trial in the absence of his family or a lawyer "because he perceived the trial as…a formality" that did not follow international standards for a fair trial.
The Geneva Council for Rights and Liberties, a Gulf-focused human rights group, reported on August 16, 2019, that al-Majid’s health had deteriorated in prison due to the effects of physical and psychological abuse and solitary confinement. According to the Gulf Centre for Human Rights, al-Majid is in Al-Mabahith prison.
CPJ emailed Al-Qst for updates on al-Majid’s case in October 2021 but did not receive a response.
As of September 2021, CPJ could not determine whether al-Majid was still in solitary confinement, his health condition, or whether he had any new court appearances.
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-Majid and other imprisoned journalists, but did not receive a response.