Saudi King Pardons Journalist

By Ahmad Shihadah

Impunity Watch Reporter, Middle East

RIYADH, Saudi Arabia – King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia has issued a pardon for Saudi journalist Rossana al-Yami. Al- Yami was sentenced to 60 lashes and a two-year travel ban for her involvement in a television show in which a Saudi man detailed his sexual exploits. Al-Yami told the Reuters news agency, “the king has vindicated me. I am satisfied with the king’s order and I accept the decisions of the sovereign.”

The man at the center of the case, Mazen Abdul Jawad, is also seeking a pardon from the King. On the episode in question, Abdul Jawad bragged about his sexual exploits.  As a result, he was sentenced to five years in prison and 1,000 lashes. Abdul Jawad’s attorney Suleiman al-Jumeii maintains his client was duped by Lebanese Broadcast Company, which ran the episode, and was unaware in many instances that he was being recorded. Further, he urged the information minister to intercede with the King to include all those involved in the case under the same ministry committee. This was done in the hopes his client could be pardoned as well.[VAC1] Al-Jumeii issued a statement saying, “justice should not be divided as long as it is one case.”

According to Human Rights Watch (HRW), King Abdullah’s decision sent an important message to the country’s courts regarding punishment of freedom expression. However, HRW still calls for real reforms in the legal system that will address the repeated attacks on the media by Saudi courts.

For more information please see:

Al-Jazeera – Saudi King Spares Journalist lashes – 27 October 2009

CNN – Royal Pardon for Saudi Journalist Sentenced to Lashes – 27 October 2009

Human Rights Watch – Saudi Arabia: King Overturns 60-Lashes Verdict Against Journalist – 27 October 2009

Author: Impunity Watch Archive