In Depth

Ali Mohammed al-Nimr: hacktivists join fight to halt execution

Saudi Arabia to publicly behead young man who was arrested as a child during anti-government protests

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Hacktivist group Anonymous has vowed to attack the Saudi Arabian government in response to planned execution of Ali Mohammed al-Nimr.

"An innocent young teenage boy has been sentenced to death in Saudi Arabia and we will not stand by and watch," activists from the notorious hacking group said in a statement.

Al-Nimr was 17-years old when he was arrested in 2012 during anti-government protests on charges including sedition, rioting and breaking allegiance to the king. He was sentenced to death in last year and could be publicly beheaded by the state any day now, human rights groups warn.

Activists say Al-Nimr suffered torture and had a confession forced out of him during his detention and was denied access to his lawyer during an unfair and secretive trial process.  

The UN has issued an urgent call for his execution to be halted, arguing that imposing the death penalty on someone who was a child at the time of the alleged offence and after allegations of torture was "incompatible with Saudi Arabia's international obligations", The Independent reports.

Maya Foa, Director of the death penalty team at legal charity Reprieve said his sentence appears to be based on the authorities' dislike for his uncle, a prominent Shia cleric, who has also been sentenced to death.

"His execution would violate international law and the most basic standards of decency," said Foa. "It must be stopped."

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has also joined the calls for Al-Nimr's execution to be halted, urging David Cameron to put pressure on the Saudi authorities to secure his release. He also raised questions about the UK's links to the Saudi prison service, the BBC reports.

"Will you step in to terminate the Ministry of Justice's bid to provide services to the Saudi prisons system - the very body, I should stress, which will be responsible for carrying out Ali's execution?" Corbyn asked the Prime Minister.

Saudi Arabia is one of the most prolific executioners in the world, and there has been a marked increase in state-sponsored killings since King Salman came to power in January. On average, one person is killed every two days, often without legal safeguards in place. Despite this grim record of abuses, the Muslim nation was recently appointed to head up a key UN human rights panel.

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