Personal information

  • Sex: Male
  • Area of activity: Human rights activist

Activist Mohamed al-Otaibi was first jailed, in 2009, for taking part in a peaceful protest against Israeli actions in Gaza. He later co-founded a human rights association (the Union for Human Rights) that the authorities refused to license. He was offered political asylum in Norway in 2017, but was arrested at Doha International Airport on his way there and handed over by Qatar to the Saudi authorities.

Arrest and jail information

  • Prison: Al-Mabaheth (General Investigations Directorate), Dammam
  • Date of arrest: 24 May 2017
  • Manner of arrest: Al-Otaibi was arrested in Hamad International Airport in Qatar while he was on his way to Norway, then deported to Saudi

Trial information

  • Charges: “Forming an unlicensed organisation” (Al-Ittehad Human Rights Association), seeking to incite sedition and spread chaos, breaching public security and committing crimes punishable under article 6 of the Anti-Cybercrime law. On 14 October 2019, 4 new charges sheet were handed to Al-Otaibi included ” going to Qatar” and ” interfering in public affairs”. No international observers were seen
  • Court: Specialised Criminal Court (SCC)
  • Verdict: Sentenced to 14 years in prison followed by 14 year travel ban
  • Date of verdict: 25 January 2018


  • Arbitrary arrest/ detention ,
  • Denied contact with family ,
  • Denied access to a lawyer


  • April 2021 - The SCC increased the prison sentence against him to 17 years, adding three years onto his existing 14-year term.
  • Between 11-31 January 2021 - He undertook a hunger strike, with his demands including a transfer from Dammam Prison to Jeddah, where his family live, and for proper medical care for his high blood pressure. He ended it after the authorities promised to meet his demands.
  • 1 December 2020 - He was sentenced by the Specialised Criminal Court (SCC) to one year in prison, which is to be added on to his existing 14-year term.
  • 03 February 2020 - Another session was held in which Al-Otaibi was asked to submit a response to the indictment that the Public Prosecution had directed against him, and the court scheduled the next session to be on 15 March 2020
  • 11 December 2019 - A session of trial of the Specialised Criminal Court (SCC) was held.
  • 14 October 2019 - Four new charges sheet were handed to Al-Otaibi included ”going to Qatar” and ” interfering in public affairs”.
  • 25 January 2018 - The Specialised Criminal Court (SCC) sentenced him to 14 years in prison followed by 14 years of travel ban.
  • 28 May 2017 - He was deported to Saudi Arabia.
  • 24 May 2017 - He was arrested in Hamad International Airport in Qatar while on his way to Norway.
  • 30 October 2016 - At the first hearing in their trial before the SCC, charges were brought against the two men in connection with their peaceful activism and freedom of expression, the main charge being that of establishing a human rights association, the UHR. They were also accused of publishing statements about human rights, which the public prosecutor viewed as encroaching on the prerogatives of governmental and civic organisations, namely the Saudi Human Rights Commission and the National Society for Human Rights.
  • 20 October 2016 - Together with Abdullah bin Modhi al-Atawi, he was informed of a case against them in the Specialised Criminal Court (SCC) and were given the date for the first session of the trial. 
  • 2013 - When al-Otaibi and colleagues set up the Union for Human Rights, the Public Prosecution launched an investigation into them for founding “an illegal association”, although they had applied for registration. They were interrogated without legal counsel present and their request for registration was denied.
  • September 2011 - The UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention determined that he had been wrongfully arrested and detained and his continuing detention violated a number of his basic legal rights.
  • 1 January 2009 - He was arrested for taking part in a peaceful protest against Gaza siege in 2009 and was sentenced to 3 years in prison followed by 5 years of travel ban. However, Alotaibi remained in dentation for 3 years and 7 months.

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