Saudi Arabia sentenced a journalist to five years in prison over a series of tweets, in what human rights organizations are calling the latest crackdown on free expression by the oil-rich kingdom. Alaa Brinji was also sentenced to an eight-year travel ban and a 50,000 Saudi Arabian riyals (about U.S. $13,300) fine. Brinji is a prominent Saudi journalist who was arrested in May 2014 and initially held in solitary confinement and without access to a lawyer. According to Amnesty International, Brinji’s crimes don’t fit the bill. “The sentencing of Alaa Brinji to a five year prison term is utterly shameful,” James Lynch, Deputy Director of Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa Programme said. “He is the latest victim of Saudi Arabia’s ruthless crackdown on peaceful dissent, where the aim appears to be to completely wipe out any and all voices of criticism.”
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Sheila Samples is an Oklahoma writer and a former civilian US Army Public Information Officer. She is a Managing Editor for OpEd News, and a regular contributor for a variety of Internet sites.