Middle East

Saudi Arabia court jails activists Qahtani and Hamid

Rights activists Mohammad al-Qahtani and Mohammed al-Hamid
Image caption Qahtani (centre) and Hamid (right) at an earlier hearing

A Saudi Arabian court has sentenced two human rights and political activists to lengthy jail terms for setting up an illegal organisation and rebelling against the authority of the king.

Mohammed al-Qahtani was given 10 years, while Mohammed al-Hamid's earlier sentence of six years was upheld and a further five-year term added.

The court also disbanded their organisation, the Saudi Civil and Political Rights Association (ACPRA).

An appeal will be heard next month.

Correspondents say the trial in Riyadh has been conducted with a transparency unusual for Saudi Arabia, with fellow activists able to attend and describe court proceedings.

However, security officers had to clear the courtroom after supporters of the men denounced the verdict as politically motivated.

ACPRA has called for greater democracy and has documented allegations of human rights abuses in the country.

The ultra-conservative Saudi kingdom does not allow political protests.

The defendants were accused of spreading "false information" via social media.

After an earlier hearing in September, Qahtani said: "We have been doing our work for several years. The authorities kept quiet for a long time, but now they are coming after us hard. We are not going to be silent. We will continue to do our work."

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