Awamphoto | Imprisoned in Saudi Arabia | July 01, 2012

Beats Covered:Human Rights, Politics
Local or Foreign:Local
Length of Sentence:5 years to <10 years
Reported Health Problems:No

Al-Safar, a photographer from Saudi Arabia's Eastern province, was arrested in July 2012, according to news reports. The government accused al-Safar of belonging to an 11-person terrorist cell, but it was not clear how the defendants were connected.

On June 18, 2014, the Saudi Specialized Criminal Court sentenced al-Safar to seven years' imprisonment and a seven-year travel ban on charges of sending material over the internet that would harm the country's reputation, corresponding with a foreign journalist, and organizing protests, among other charges, news reports said. It is not clear which work of al-Safar's led to his conviction.

Al-Safar took pictures for the website Awamphoto, which also identified him as Jassim al-Awami. The website features pictures of cultural and religious events and rallies from Awamia, a Shia-majority town that has witnessed significant opposition protests against the Sunni Saudi government in recent years. The website also published photos of Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr, a Shia religious leader who was sentenced to death in October 2014 for "sowing discord" and "undermining national unity," according to news reports. Al-Nimr had strongly supported anti-government protests in Eastern province since 2011. His arrest in 2012, in which he was shot by Saudi security forces, and his execution in 2016 set off new protests.

The director of the independent rights group European Saudi Organization for Human Rights, Ali Adubisi, told CPJ that al-Safar is held at the General Intelligence Prison in the city of Dammam and that was still serving his seven-year jail sentence. As of late 2017, CPJ could not determine details of al-Safar's health or whether he appealed his conviction.

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