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On Wednesday, the Saudi authorities released a young man from the Shiite minority in the kingdom who had commuted a death sentence against him for participating in protests against the government during the Arab Spring uprising.

Ali al-Nimr was arrested in 2012, when he was only 17, and charged with terrorism-related charges for his participation in anti-government protests during the Arab Spring uprising.

Nimr is the nephew of Shiite cleric Nimr al-Nimr, whose execution in Saudi Arabia in 2016 led to protests in Iran that eventually led to the severing of diplomatic relations between Riyadh and Tehran.

And the London-based human rights organization ALQST announced on Twitter, on Wednesday, that “Ali al-Nimr, who has been detained since 2012 for his participation in demonstrations, and who is younger than 18 at the time and had previously been sentenced to death as well, was released today.”

His sister, Zahra Al-Nimr, said on Twitter, “After ten lean years, my brother (Ali) is free and at large, thank God, thank you very much.”

His uncle Jaafar al-Nimr posted a picture of Ali sitting in the back seat of a car, commenting, “Ali al-Nimr to freedom… Thank God for your safety.”

“It is great to see Ali al-Nimr finally released from detention in Saudi Arabia. He won his freedom after so long,” said Maya Fau, director of the anti-death penalty organization Reprieve.

And last February, the Saudi authorities reduced the death sentences issued against Al-Nimr and two other young men from the Shiite minority in the Kingdom to ten years in prison, in a decision that falls within the framework of the Kingdom’s efforts to improve its human rights record.

The decision came after it was announced in April 2020 that all death sentences against those convicted of crimes committed as minors would be rescinded.

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the de facto ruler in the kingdom, has been seeking to contain international criticism of his country’s human rights record and its lacking judicial system, especially since the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi in his country’s consulate in Istanbul in October 2018.

It is noteworthy that Saudi Arabia is one of the countries in the world that apply the death penalty the most.

 
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