Prominent Saudi rights activist ‘dies in jail’

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Saudi Arabia has been strongly criticised for its human rights record

A leading Saudi human rights campaigner jailed since 2013 for dissident activity has died in prison, activists say.

Abdullah al-Hamid, a founder of the Saudi Civil and Political Rights Association, had been in a coma after suffering a stroke.

Human rights groups had long called for his release.

Saudi Arabia, widely criticised for its intolerance of dissent, has not commented on the reports.

Dr al-Hamid, 69, and another activist, Mohammed al-Qahtani, were convicted at the same time and sentenced to 10 and 11 years respectively.

The men had been found guilty of a raft of offences, including “inciting disorder”.

Fellow Saudi activists have accused the Saudi authorities of not giving Dr al-Hamid adequate medical treatment since he fell ill two weeks ago.

British-based Saudi academic, Madawi al-Rasheed – who is an outspoken critic of the current Saudi leadership – has described Dr al-Hamid as a symbol of the struggle for human rights.

The Saudi Civil and Political Rights Association was shut down after its co-founders were convicted.

Campaigners say Saudi Arabia has one of the worst records for human rights in the world, with freedom of expression severely curtailed and critics of the government subject to what they say is arbitrary arrest.

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