Over 2,500 anti-regime activists held in Saudi detention centers: Group

RIYADH (Web Desk) Saudi authorities are reportedly keeping more than 2,500 anti-regime activists behind bars as part of a widening crackdown led by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman against Muslim preachers, members of the press and intellectuals in the oil-rich kingdom.The rights group Prisoners of Conscience, which is an independent non-governmental organization advocating human rights in Saudi Arabia, announced in a post on its official Twitter page that at least 2,613 people,

Among them prominent lawyers, judges, academicians and scholars, are currently languishing in jails and detention centers across the country.The group added that journalist Khalid al-Alamaki is being held in prison since September 27 last year on unknown charges.Imprisoned Saudi journalist Khalid al-Alamaki Saudi Arabia has recently stepped up politically-motivated arrests, prosecution and conviction of peaceful dissident writers and human rights campaigners.

Saudi officials have also intensified security measures in the Shia-populated and oil-rich Eastern Province.Eastern Province has been the scene of peaceful demonstrations since February 2011. Protesters have been demanding reforms, freedom of expression, release of political prisoners, and an end to economic and religious discrimination against the oil-rich region.Human Rights watch has blasted the Saudi regime for imprisoning Sunni preacher Salman al-Awda, calling for his immediate release.

The protests have been met with a heavy-handed crackdown by the regime, with Saudi forces beefing up security measures across the province.Over the past years, Riyadh has also redefined its anti-terrorism laws to target activism.In January 2016, Saudi authorities executed Shia cleric Sheikh Nimr Baqir al-Nimr, an outspoken critic of the policies of the Riyadh regime. Nimr had been arrested in Qatif in 2012.

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