Saudi blogger and columnist Thumar al-Marzouqi was one of several journalists arrested by Saudi authorities in April 2019. Al-Marzouqi wrote about sectarianism in the region, and he ran a blog to which several other journalists arrested at the same time contributed. Al-Marzouqi had also been active with the movement to end the ban on women driving.
Al-Marzouqi was arrested April 4, 2019, according to The Associated Press and the London-based human rights organization Al-Qst. According to Al-Qst, he is being held in Al-Hair Prison in Riyadh.
Al-Marzouqi ran his own blog and contributed to local and regional outlets, including the Saudi newspaper Okaz and the U.K.-based, Qatari-funded outlet The New Arab, according to his author pages on each website. His blog featured contributions by other journalists and intellectuals who wrote about topics including sectarian divides in the Syria conflict, the Wahhabi ideology that undergirds the Saudi religious and political establishment, women’s rights, and regional political issues, according to a CPJ review. Marzouqi, like several other journalists arrested around the same time, had also been active with the movement to end the ban on women driving, according to The New York Times.
According to Al-Qst’s website, al-Marzouqi 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-Marzouqi’s 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-Marzouqi, 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.