Jared Kushner, US President Donald Trump’s son in law and senior adviser, reportedly intervened personally in an attempt to stop Saudi Arabia embarking on a new wave of executions.
Kushner called Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman earlier this month, a few days after CNN broadcast exclusive footage of Murtaja Queriris, a juvenile on death row, participating in a 2011 youth protest at the age of 10, Middle East Eye quoted two Saudi sources with knowledge of the conversation as saying.
Queriris, who was subsequently arrested three years later over his involvement in protests and condemned to death, has had his sentence commuted to 12 years in prison, a Saudi official quoted by the Reuters news agency said on Saturday.
“He will not be executed,” the official said.
However, there is no word of the fate of three other young men, Ali al-Nimr, Dawood al-Marhoon and Abdulla al-Zaher, who also stand accused of committing crimes as minors, the Middle East Eye’s David Hearst reported on Monday.
Nor is there word of the fate of three prominent scholars, Salman al-Odah, Awad al-Qarni and Ali al-Omari, whom MEE revealed were to be executed shortly after Ramadan, which ended earlier this month.
Odah, Qarni and Omari’s cases have not yet been heard by a court.
According to MEE’s sources, Kushner raised these cases with Mohammed bin Salman, warning that a new wave of executions would damage Riyadh’s image in the US Congress at a time when the White House “was trying to assemble support for action against Iran.”
In April, the kingdom executed 37 men for crimes of “terrorism”, in what was seen at the time as a trial balloon, testing the waters of international reaction.
One Saudi source with knowledge of the exchange told the London-based online news outlet: “Kushner said he was concerned that a new wave of executions would be harmful to the image of Saudi Arabia. It will have a bad effect on Congress.”
Kushner told the crown prince that the scandal created by the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi in October “had only just died down in Washington.”
“This is not the time for it. The story of Khashoggi has died and you will ruin the image of Saudi,” Kushner reportedly said in the telephone conversation.
“This is not the time for executions. It will ruin the image of Saudi Arabia.”
Trump’s son-in-law also raised the case of a number of women activists still in prison, MEE reported.
Source: Middle East Eye