Turki al-Jasser, a Saudi journalist who wrote about several issues considered sensitive in Saudi Arabia, was arrested in March 2018. According to the U.K.-based Saudi human rights group Al-Qst, al-Jasser is being held in Al-Hair Prison in Riyadh.
Al-Jasser wrote about issues including the status of women under Islam, the uprising in Egypt, the plight of the Palestinians, and Iran’s role in the region for the Saudi newspaper al-Taqrir and his own blog between 2013 and 2015, according to CPJ’s review of his work. In a July 2013 post on his blog, al-Jasser wrote about the historical relationship between Saudi Arabia and the Muslim Brotherhood—a sensitive issue in the kingdom.
Authorities suspended al-Taqrir in 2015 and in 2018 jailed its editor, Sultan al-Jumairi, who also remains imprisoned, according to CPJ research.
In a November 2018 article about his arrest, The New Arab cited the founder of Al-Qst as saying al-Jasser was believed to have been behind a Twitter account known as Kashkool that documented allegations of corruption within the Saudi royal family. The New Arab reported that al-Jasser was detained after Saudi authorities connected him to the account. The Twitter account is no longer available and CPJ was not able to verify that al-Jasser ran the account.
Saudi officials have been accused of spying on Saudi Twitter users and journalists, including Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi, who was murdered in the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul in October 2018, and his friend, a Saudi dissident named Omar Abdulaziz, whom the digital rights group Citizen Lab reported was likely the victim of a Saudi government phone hacking attack.
In a separate case, The Washington Post reported in November 2019 that the U.S. charged two former Twitter employees with spying on Saudi Twitter users on behalf of the Saudi government at the company’s San Francisco headquarters. Twitter released a statement in November 2019 that thanked the U.S. Department of Justice for its support in the investigation.
As of September 2020, CPJ was unable to determine what charges al-Jasser may be facing or the state of his health 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-Jasser, 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.