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Saudi Arabia detains cleric, judicial officials in latest arrests in crackdown on dissent

Last week, Saudi authorities arrested around 30 people, including prominent clerics [Twitter]

Date of publication: 19 September, 2017

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Saudi Arabia has reportedly detained a popular cleric and judiciary officials in the latest round of arrests in an ongoing "crackdown" on dissents.

Saudi Arabia has reportedly detained a popular cleric and judiciary officials in the latest round of arrests in an ongoing "crackdown" on dissents.

Saudi authorities arrested at least eight people on Monday, including cleric Mousa al-Ghannami, according to the activist-run group Prisoner of Conscience.

Ghannami is well-known for his commentary on social media about the Syrian war and his criticism of the Islamic State group and the al-Qaeda-linked Hayaat Tahrir al-Sham.

Prisoner of Conscience said on its Twitter account that Saudi authorities had also detained seven officials from the Ministry of Justice.

Saudi authorities have already arrested around 30 people, including prominent clerics Salman al-Awdah and Awad al-Qarni.

The arrests started on September 9 and included six clerics and Awdah's brother, Khaled, for apparently disclosing that his brother had been detained.

Awdah was arrested after he welcomed the first contact between Saudi crown prince Mohammed bin Salman and Qatar's emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani after a three-month boycott.

Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt severed all ties on June 5 and imposed economic sanctions on Qatar accusing it of links to extremist groups such as the Muslim Brotherhood - charges Doha denies.

Rights groups have condemned the apparent crackdown in the ultra-conservative kingdom.

Popular progressive Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi has also been banned from writing for a pro-government newspaper following comments he made on social media defending the Brotherhood.

Khashoggi wrote a strong criticism of the authorities in Riyadh in The Washington Post on Monday, saying the arrested have been accused of being "recipients of Qatari money and part of a grand Qatari-backed conspiracy".

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