Saudi Arabian Protester Facing 'Crucifixion' Sparks International Outrage
TEHRAN (Tasnim) – An international campaign is underway to stop the execution of a young Saudi Arabian man sentenced to death for his role in the 2012 pro-democracy protests in Arab state.
Ali al-Nimr, who was arrested at the age of 17, is the nephew of a high-profile dissident in Saudi Arabia, which has one of the highest execution rates in the world, ABC news reports.
Authorities have accused him of attacking their security forces, but his lawyer said Nimr's confession was made after he was tortured.
Nimr now faces "crucifixion", which human rights groups say means that he will be beheaded and then placed on public display.
Former attorney-general Philip Ruddock, who leads a group of Australian politicians against the death penalty, has been lobbying Saudi officials to spare Nimr.
"Chris Hayes and myself have written directly to Saudi Arabia, to the crown prince and to the diplomatic representatives here in Australia, because we view it as very significant," he said.
An international social media campaign calling for Nimr to be freed has been gaining momentum, but Mr Ruddock said he was yet to receive a response from Saudi officials about the case.
"These are allegations that he admitted these offences. But the argument that is put by his representatives is that [the confession] occurred under torture," he said.
"Now, when you've got issues of doubt like this about a person who is a minor when it occurs, then I think it's fundamentally wrong and I can't see any way that it can be justified."
So far this year, Saudi Arabia has executed 134 people, many by public beheading.
Last week Saudi Arabia was chosen to lead a United Nations Human Right's Council.
The decision was questioned by human rights groups, but the US State Department welcomed the news that one of its key allies had been chosen for the job.
"I mean, we've talked about our concerns about some of the capital punishment cases in Saudi Arabia in our human rights report, but I don't have any more to add to it," deputy spokesman Mark Toner said.
Mr Toner said he welcomed Saudi Arabia heading the council.
"Again, I don't have any comment, don't have any reaction to it. I mean, frankly, it's ... we would welcome it. We're close allies," he said.
He said he could not say "off the top of my head" whether Saudi Arabia got into the human rights report annually.