(Beirut) – Saudi authorities should immediately disclose the whereabouts and condition of the Jordanian activist Khaled al-Natour, and free him or charge him with a recognizable criminal offense.
Saudi security forces detained al-Natour at King Khaled International Airport in Riyadh on January 6, 2013, and have held him incommunicado for two months. In a letter to Saudi Arabia’s interior minister, Prince Mohammed bin Nayef bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, Human Rights Watch called on Saudi authorities to release al-Natour without delay, or charge him before a court of law if authorities have evidence that he may be responsible for any crime.
“Khaled al-Natour’s family has been waiting in agony for two months with no information regarding his fate from Saudi or Jordanian authorities,” said Joe Stork, deputy Middle East director at Human Rights Watch. “The Saudi government should immediately disclose his condition and whereabouts, and grant him access to family members and lawyers.”
Al-Natour is a prominent activist affiliated with the Jordanian youth group known as Herak (movements), which has advocated political and economic reforms in Jordan since early 2011. A family member and local activist told Human Rights Watch that they believe the arrest stems from al-Natour’s participation in several anti-Saudi demonstrations in Jordan in late 2011.
One of al-Natour’s family members told Human Rights Watch that repeated attempts to gather information about al-Natour’s whereabouts and status through the Jordanian Foreign Ministry and Jordanian Embassy in Riyadh have been unsuccessful. The family member said that Foreign Minister Nasser Joudeh confirmed al-Natour’s detention in a private meeting on February 1, but that ministry representatives have since then repeatedly told the family that Saudi authorities have not responded to official requests for information.
The family member also told Human Rights Watch that family members have asked the Foreign Ministry to designate a lawyer in Riyadh to petition Saudi authorities to disclose information about al-Natour’s case, but the Foreign Ministry refused, stating that it did not have the resources.
Jordan’s al-Ghad daily newspaper reported that a member of Jordan’s Chamber of Deputies from the northern governorate of Irbid attended the February 1 meeting with family members. He told the newspaper that Joudeh “reassured us regarding the health and location of Khaled and