A Saudi female journalist was forced to deactivate her Twitter account after receiving serious threats by the Saudi security forces, according to a report by the Gulf Centre for Human Rights (GHCR).
Journalists and human rights activist Iman Al-Qahtani has been facing harassment by the Saudi authorities due to her reporting on human rights issues. GCHR reports that Saudi security forces repeatedly threatened to imprison Al-Qahtani and target her family.
Before closing down her account on April 10, Al Qahatani tweeted “Oh dear mother I’’ll stop just for you, goodbye!”
Doha Centre for Media Freedom is concerned about the safety of journalist Iman Al-Qahtani. It is a shame that Al-Qahtani had to forcefully shut down her Twitter account and resort to self-censorship. If journalists feel vulnerable, they won't be able to function properly and press freedom will suffer.
According to Amnesty International, “2013 promises to be a dark year for freedom of expression and of association in Saudi Arabia.”
In a press release, Amnesty International highlighted Saudi Arabia’s measures in restricting online freedom of expression: “In addition to repressive measures against individual activists, the Saudi Arabian authorities have lately resorted to measures including wiping out of the online presence and social media accounts of activists and organizations.”
GCHR urged the Saudi authorities to “immediately stop any form of harassment of Iman Al-Qahtani and members of her family and guarantee that she is able to exercise her right to freedom of opinion and expression and to post comments on-line and in other public domains without fear of reprisals.”
Paris-based watchdog Reporters Without Borders ranked Saudi Arabia 163 out of 179 on its latest World Press Freedom Index.