Saudi Arabia frees Murtaja Qureiris, once the kingdom’s youngest political prisoner – ESOHR

His case was first publicized in exclusive CNN report published in 2019, detailing how Saudi authorities arrested Qureiris when he was 13 years old, three years after he was accused of taking part in a bicycle protest during the 2011 Arab Spring at the age of 10.

After almost four years of pre-trial detention, even before his 18th birthday, he was charged with the recommendation of the death penalty.

Prosecutors alleged that Koureiris belonged to an “extremist terrorist group” and committed violence during the protests, including allegedly helping to create Molotov cocktails. Koureiris denied all accusations against him.

He was 10 years old when he allegedly committed at least one of the acts listed in his indictment. He was charged with accompanying his activist brother Ali Koureris on a motorcycle ride to a police station in the eastern Saudi city of Awamiya, where Ali allegedly threw Molotov cocktails into the building.

Saudi Arabia executes man who allegedly committed crimes as a minor
In 2020, Saudi Arabia announced that, as part of a royal decree, it abolish the death penalty for people who committed crimes as minors. According to the state-backed Human Rights Commission (HRC) under the State Committee for Human Rights (HRC), anyone sentenced to death after being convicted of crimes they committed as a minor will be sentenced to a term not exceeding 10 years in a juvenile detention facility. time.

In 2019, at the age of 18, Qureiris was convicted and sentenced to prison, although the Saudi government has not announced the charge or charges on which he was convicted. A source familiar with the matter told CNN at the time that he was officially spared the death penalty.

CNN has reached out to the Saudi Arabian government for comment.

A source familiar with the matter told CNN in 2019 that Qureiris should be released in 2022.

International pressure on the kingdom began to escalate, with several international human rights groups condemning his detention after CNN reported on the Koureiris case. In 2019, the Austrian parliament voted to close the Saudi-backed center for interfaith dialogue in protest of Kureiris’s detention.