'Cease terrorising my family', says Barnet resident to Saudi government

Barnet resident Abdullah Ghamdi speaks out against Saudi Arabia’s detainment of his mother and brother 

Barnet resident Abdullah Ghamdi speaking out against Saudi Arabia’s detainment of his mother and brother - Credit: SANAD

An organisation focused on human rights violations in Saudi Arabia released a report last week on the arbitrary 3-year detainment of a Barnet resident’s mother and brother.

The report published by SANAD (Standing Against Nefarious and Arbitrary Detentions), claims Saudi officials have arbitrarily detained ex-Saudi Navy Officer Abdullah Ghamdi’s elderly mother and brother since 2018 because of Ghamdi’s vocal criticism of the Saudi regime.

In the report Abdullah, 46, called on the Saudi authorities to release his family members: “The Saudi authorities must cease terrorising my family and stop preventing them from corresponding with me."

His mother and brother were arrested in 2018 without an arrest warrant with Saudi officials claiming it was because Abdullah’s mother was accepting maintenance money from him - they then went on to claim they had weapons and ammunition in their home.

Since then, Abdullah has not been permitted to communicate with his mother and has been told she is still detained in a cell.

Ex-Saudi Navy Officer Abdullah Ghamdi

Ex-Saudi Navy Officer Abdullah Ghamdi - Credit: Courtesy of Abdullah Ghamdi

Abdullah started his political activism through conversations with Dr Saad Al-Fagih - a surgeon and vocal opponent to the Saudi regime - when he came to the UK to study engineering in 2000.

Then, in 2007, Abdullah applied for asylum in the UK because he found out he was on a Saudi wanted list. His asylum application was granted in 2012 and in 2020 he became a naturalised British citizen - throughout this time he has continued his activism.

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SANAD’s report includes other case studies of Saudi mistreatment of relatives of Saudi dissidents living abroad, alleging they are routinely subjected to harassment, blackmail, arbitrary detention, travel restrictions and other measures.

SANAD’s CEO Bilal Ithkiran said: “We are trying to lobby the UK government to put pressure on Saudi officials about this issue and also raise awareness of the sportswashing problem in the UK seen in the Saudi takeover of Newcastle.

“We want to bring human rights violations in Saudi Arabia to light, put pressure on the country’s officials and get the country to change.”

The Saudi Arabian embassy in London did not reply to our request for a comment.