UK Foreign Secretary “does not expect” Saudi to execute Ali al-Nimr

London, United Kingdom (Reprieve) – In response to questions in Parliament over the case of a Saudi protestor sentenced to death as a child, the British Foreign Secretary has today said that he “do[es] not expect” him to be executed.

Philip Hammond was responding to a question from Andy Slaughter MP regarding the cases of Ali al Nimr, who received a death sentence aged 17 over his involvement in anti-Government protests, and Karl Andree, a British national reportedly facing a sentence of 350 lashes in connection with alleged alcohol offences.

Mr Hammond told MPs that the Government believed it could “achieve most by speaking privately but regularly” with the Saudis, but added “I do not expect Mr Andree to receive the lashings that he has been sentenced to, and I do not expect Mr al-Nimr to be executed.”

Ali al Nimr is one of a number of juveniles facing the death penalty in Saudi Arabia. International human rights organisation Reprieve has established that Dawoud al-Marhoon, who was also arrested age 17 in the wake of anti-Government protests, has had his death sentence upheld in the past month and could be beheaded at any time.

"Flag of Saudi Arabia"

“Flag of Saudi Arabia”

Commenting, Kate Higham, a caseworker on the death penalty team at Reprieve, which is assisting Mr al-Nimr, said: “This is an encouraging sign, but Ali’s family will not be able to breathe easy until he is released. Ali has suffered an appalling ordeal: arrested as a child, then subjected to torture, an unfair trial, and a death sentence.   The British Government cannot let their Saudi allies off the hook until they have overturned this monstrous injustice, and released Ali and Dawoud to their families.”

This report prepared by Reprieve. 

Fifth Column note: Anonymous, the hacktivist collective, has been advocating for al-Nimr’s release and has been organizing under the hashtag #opNimr on Facebook and Twitter