Suleyman Saleh Al-Reshoudi

Date of Arrest: 
2 February 2007
Current Location: 
Al-Hair Prison

Suleyman Al-Reshoudi, lawyer and former judge turned human rights defender, was arrested in 2007 while working for peaceful reform in Saudi Arabia. Since his arrest he has been tortured and held in harsh conditions, including solitary confinement. He has not been charged or brought before a court.

Suleyman Al-Reshoudi worked for two decades as a judge in Riyadh. Well-known for criticising Saudi Arabia’s security forces, he advocates for democracy non-violent change and criticises America’s Middle East policy. He regularly represented clients detained for years by the security forces without charge or trial.

On 2 February 2007 Mr Al-Reshoudi was at his home in Jeddah, meeting with eight other peaceful activists (including Al-Hashimi) discussing reform of the constitutional monarchy and political parties. The group planned to create a committee to strengthen civil and political rights and advocate for peaceful reforms. They were also discussing a potential class-action lawsuit against the Ministry of the Interior on behalf of Mr Al-Reshoudi’s arbitrarily detained clients.

At 3:00am that night security forces raided his house, fired stun grenades, and arrested Mr Al-Reshoudi and the others. Officials accused them of belonging to an illegal organisation, having illegal contacts with foreign politicians and financing terrorism. The following year Mr Al-Reshoudi’s arrest led to the first co-ordinated multiple-location hunger strike in Saudi Arabia.

In mid-2009, after Mr Al-Reshoudi had been detained for more than two years in solitary confinement, his lawyers filed a landmark case on his behalf against the Ministry of Interior. After a record eight hearings, a judge threw out the case in August 2010 with no explanation. Mr Al-Reshoudi remains in Al Hayr prison. No charges have been laid against him.

UN intervention

For years Mr Al-Reshoudi sent information to the UN human rights special procedures on countless political prisoners. On 28 November 2007 the United Nation’s Working Group on Arbitrary Detention gave Opinion 27/2007. “[31] The Working Group ... has consistently held that expressing opinions not in conformity with or critical to government politics is a legitimate exercise of the right to freedom of opinion and expression ... the Working Group considers that ... the arrest of [Mr Al-Reshoudi] falls within the scope of the right to freedom of opinion and expression and assembly as guaranteed by articles 19 and 20 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.”

The UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention has concluded the detention of Mr Al-Reshoudi and all those arrested with him to be unlawful and called on the Saudi authorities to remedy the situation. All continue to be indefinitely detained. The US State Department named Mr Al-Reshoudi in its 2009 human rights report for Saudi Arabia stating that according to the ACPRA, “Judge Suliman Al-Reshoudi was subjected to ‘severe physical and psychological torture’.”