Blogger Naif al-Hindas was one of several Saudi journalists arrested in April 2019. Like several of the others, he had not been recently active in journalism. No charges have been disclosed and CPJ could not determine the reason for his arrest.
Al-Hindas was arrested April 4 or 5, 2019, according to the Saudi-focused human rights organization Al-Qst and the Beirut-based rights organization Gulf Centre for Human Rights. As of September 2020, he is in Al-Mabahith prison in Dammam, according to Al Qst.
Al-Hindas wrote about philosophy, film, feminism, and other cultural and political topics, according to a CPJ review of his contributions to the Saudi culture blogs Arab Renewal and Saqya, and his personal blog. CPJ was unable to find any of his writing after a July 2018 post on his blog.
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.
According to Al-Qst’s website, al-Hindas 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 could not determine any details about al-Hindas’ health or treatment in prison.
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-Hindas, 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 returned.