A Saudi court has sentenced a Yemeni blogger to jail and then deportation to Yemen for a social media post supporting LGBT+ rights for all in Saudi Arabia.
After a trial in which he was provided no counsel, Mohamad al-Bokari, a Yemeni living in Riyadh, was sentenced 10 months in prison and a fine of 10,000 Saudi Riyals (GBP £2,300).
The authorities arrested al-Bokari, 29, for posting a video on social media calling for equal rights, including for gay people. He had fled Yemen in June 2019 after Yemeni armed groups threatened to kill him and has since been living in Saudi Arabia as an undocumented migrant.
“Saudi Arabia’s public relations campaigns tout the kingdom’s ‘progress,’ but the court’s jail sentence for peaceful speech and then deportation to Yemen where the defendant’s life is at risk shows how hollow these claims are,” said Rasha Younes, LGBT+ rights researcher at Human Rights Watch. “Saudi Arabia should match rhetoric with reality and drop the case and the deportation against al-Bokari immediately.”
Human Rights Watch reported that after his sentencing, al-Bokari was returned to a shared cell with other prisoners who have verbally abused him, including by calling him a “devil worshipper” who “deserves the death penalty.”