The human rights group Reprieve has warned that Saudi Arabia may be close to executing Mujtaba Al-Sweikat, who was arrested five years ago for attending a pro-democracy rally in the country as a 17-year-old.
He has recently been transferred to the capital, Riyadh, and is one of 14 men and boys facing execution for protest-related offenses, according to Reprieve.
Al-Sweikat was reportedly given this sentence last year by Saudi Arabia’s Specialized Criminal Court, originally established to hear terrorism cases.
Maya Foa, the director of Reprieve, told ABC10 that the country’s latest move is “extremely worrying.”
“The increasingly brutal Saudi Arabian regime has ramped up executions for protest-related offences in recent days,” she said. “Mujtaba was a promising 17-year-old boy on his way to study in Michigan when he was arrested, beaten, and later sentenced to death on the basis of a ‘confession’ extracted through torture.”
“He now faces the imminent threat of beheading along with 14 others, including at least one other juvenile and a young disabled man.”
The boy was 17 and on his way to visit Western Michigan University as a prospective student during the time of his arrest in 2012. A spokeswoman for the university informed Middle East Eye that Sweikat was planning to pursue a career in finance.
Reports indicate that Sweikat was headed to King Fahd International Airport in Dammam when police officials got to him.
The teachers union American Federation of Teachers has called on U.S. officials to intervene in the situation. Its president, Randi Weingarten, urged “President Trump, as the standard-bearer for our great nation, to do everything in his power to stop the atrocities that may otherwise take place in Saudi Arabia.”
“Should these executions occur, Saudi Arabia should be considered a pariah nation by the world,” she said.