UN Special Procedures Publishes Urgent Appeal to Saudi Arabia on Disappearance of Yemeni Journalist Marwan Al-Muraisy

On 1 April 2019, the United Nations (UN) Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances, and Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression published an Urgent Appeal addressed to Saudi Arabia regarding the disappearance of Yemeni journalist Marwan Ali Naji Al-Muraisy.

One year ago, Marwan Al-Muraisy disappeared after being arrested by Saudi Arabia’s National Security Forces in Riyadh. When he was returning home from visiting his five-year-old son in a nearby hospital, officers dressed in civilian clothing took him to an unknown location. While his family was finally able to contact him in May 2019, they continue to be denied information on his current location and the charges against him.

While Al-Muraisy, an influential journalist, never made any public statements about Saudi politics, he repeatedly refused to partake in official government campaigns or take orders on what to write. Since moving to Saudi Arabia in 2003, Al-Muraisy has worked for several Saudi media outlets and made various guest appearances on television. In June 2016, he appeared alongside cleric Salman Al-Odah where he discussed his growing Twitter following and various online tools to convey information. In 2017, Al-Odah was arrested for tweeting a call for mediation between Saudi and Qatari authorities amid diplomatic turmoil in the Gulf region.

The UN Special Procedures have requested additional information and any commentary from Saudi Arabia regarding the arrest of Al-Muraisy, the legal basis upon which he was arrested, his current location as well as his mental and physical condition, and whether or not any charges have been brought against him as well as the factual basis of such charges. The Saudi government has responded to the appeal, but it has yet to be translated.

Emily Yormak is an advocacy intern with ADHRB