Al-Dood, founder of the independent news website Al-Rakoba, was arrested from his home in the eastern Saudi city of Al-Khobar on July 23, according to a statement by Al-Rakoba and his brother, Hussein al-Hussein, who spoke to CPJ. Saudi security agents confiscated the journalist’s laptop and passport and did not provide an explanation for the arrest or disclose any charges against him.
As of late 2015, Al-Dood was being held in Ma’aloumat Prison in the city of Dammam, near al-Khobar. He has been denied access to his lawyer, his brother said.
Al-Dood told his wife during a prison visit in August 2015 that Saudi authorities had told him he would be deported to Sudan, according to the journalist’s brother. Al-Hussein told CPJ at the time that as far as he knew, no formal deportation order had been issued.
Al-Dood, a Sudanese citizen, has lived in Saudi Arabia for 15 years, his brother said. Al-Hussein and Al-Rakoba said al-Dood is a legal resident of Saudi Arabia and that his paperwork was in order. CPJ’s calls and emails to the Saudi Embassy in Washington in September 2015 for comment about the case were not answered.
Al-Dood founded Al-Rakoba in 2005. The website, which is critical of the Sudanese government and covers issues such as government corruption and human rights abuses, publishes reports and editorials from Sudanese and international contributors. Sudanese authorities have blocked domestic access to Al-Rakoba several times over the years, according to al-Hussein and CPJ research.
Al-Hussein told CPJ that agents of the Sudanese National Intelligence and Security Services (NISS) have threatened al-Dood for years. Al-Hussein said that NISS agents had told him that they would kill the journalist “if they get hold of him.” He told CPJ that al-Dood had also received threatening messages directly from the NISS. The last time al-Dood was in Sudan was in 2008, for his wedding, but he had to cut his trip short and leave because of threats from security forces, his brother said.