Prominent Saudi economist sentenced to 15-years in jail: Report

Essam Al-Zamil, who once criticized plans to sell Saudi Arabia’s state-owned Aramco oil company, was reportedly sentenced to 15 years in prison.

A leading human rights platform has raised the alarm over the fate of a prominent Saudi economist, who was allegedly sentenced to 15 years in prison after refusing to publish an interview with the kingdom’s powerful crown prince.

Prisoners of Conscience said Saudi authorities slapped the sentence on Essam Al-Zamil – who once criticized plans to sell Saudi Arabia’s state-owned a portion of the Aramco oil company – for not promoting his conversation with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman on his Snapchat social media platform.

“The economist Essam Al-Zamil was unjustly sentenced to 15 years imprisonment after three years of arbitrary detention,” the popular platform said on Twitter.

“Al-Zamil deserved a ministerial position in the ministry of economy but the repressive authorities have imprisoned [him] since 2017. Now they have completed that human rights violation by issuing a 15-year prison sentence against him,” the tweet continued.

“We affirm out total rejection of this ruling and demand his immediate release.”

Al-Zamil, a renowned software entrepreneur from a respected merchant family in the Eastern Province, was awarded by King Salman for being the youngest, most successful entrepreneur in the kingdom. He was also named by Forbes as one of the most influential figures in the kingdom and travelled as part of the official Saudi delegation to the US just a week before his arrest.

Despite the statement, Saudi authorities have yet to announce the ruling publicly.

In 2018, he was charged with “joining a terrorist organization” and meeting with Qatari officials.

Al-Zamil was also accused of joining the Muslim Brotherhood, inciting local protests in the kingdom, and communicating with neighboring Qatar, which Saudi Arabia and its three regional allies relations launched a blockade on in 2017.

Prior to his arrest, Al-Zamil published a series of social media posts online in which he said the $2 trillion valuation for Aramco, suggested by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, would require authorities to include the company’s oil reserves in the sale.

According to Okaz, the charges against Al-Zamil include giving foreign diplomats “information and analysis about the kingdom” without informing authorities or obtaining permission from them to do so.