Middle East

Saudi security court jails poet Habib al-Maatiq

Habib al-Maatiq
Image caption The Al-Fajr Cultural Network was shut down after Habib al-Maatiq's arrest

A security court in Saudi Arabia has sentenced a Shia poet and journalist to a year in prison in connection with protests in Eastern Province.

Habib al-Maatiq has already been in detention for more than a year, and it is reported that he has been released.

It is not clear what he was charged with, but he was involved in a website that reported on pro-reform protests by Eastern Province's Shia majority.

His detention prompted a petition on Twitter for his release, #FreeHabibNow.

According to the campaign group PEN International, Mr Maatiq was arrested in February 2012 at the offices of the Al-Fajr Cultural Network website in the eastern city of Jubail.

A colleague, Hussein Malik al-Salam, was arrested the next day, as was Jalal Mohammed al-Jamal, the manager of another news website.

They were subsequently held at a prison in Dammam.

Al-Fajr Cultural Network was shut down after Mr Maatiq's arrest.

Since protests erupted in 2011 in Eastern Province, hundreds of people have been arrested and dozens remain in custody.

The security forces are also alleged to have used excessive force against demonstrators, with about 10 reportedly shot dead.

Officials say troops have only opened fire when confronted by armed people.

Related Topics

More on this story