Saleh al-Shehi is a prominent Saudi journalist with over a million Twitter followers. On December 8, he went on television and told a simple truth: People with connections to the royal court have an easier time buying certain land than do ordinary citizens. He has now been sentenced to five years in prison for “insulting the royal court.”
To read about this case, go here. Al-Shehi is one of many journalists newly behind bars.
There is a new sheriff in town, namely “MSB,” or Mohammad bin Salman, the crown prince. He has cracked down harshly since he rose. Our president, Donald Trump, saluted him for it: “I have great confidence in King Salman and the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia, they know exactly what they are doing. Some of those they are harshly treating have been ‘milking’ their country for years!”
The more you learn about the world, the more you realize what a rare thing freedom of expression is. We journalists in our liberal democracies are incredibly lucky. What do we risk? Mean tweets? Nasty “comments”? Professional tensions? People such as Saleh al-Shehi risk a lot, more than anyone should ask, really.