The Saudi Arabian court system sent out another strong message today that it would not tolerate freedom of speech or the media by sentencing Pakistani analyst and commentator Zaid Hamid to 1000 lashes and eight years prison.
Hamid has allegedly been an opponent and critic of the Saudi Government but what makes his case stand out and be of major concern is that Hamid is not a Saudi citizen or resident.
He was arrested on June 26 while on a private visit to Saudi Arabia with his wife for allegedly making statements against the Saudi government.
On June 26, the Pakistani Foreign Office confirmed Hamid had been arrested in Saudi Arabia but has not corroborated news of Hamid's sentencing.
“Our embassy in Riyadh has informed us that Mr Zaid Hamid was arrested about two weeks ago. Since then, the embassy has been working with the local authorities to get consular access,” said Foreign Office spokesperson Qazi Khalilullah.
A former Hamid aide in 2013 accused him of being in the coffers of the Inter-Services Intelligence agency, raising the prospect the arrest and sentence are far more militarily motivated than on the surface.