On the morning of December 16, 2015, Saudi authorities kidnapped Sheikh Samir Muhammad Ali Alhilal as he was leaving his house in Alanoud neighborhood in Dammam. Since then, aside from two calls, visitations and contact have been forbidden; his charges remain unknown،،،
Sheikh Alhilal, 57, has been in solitary confinement for more than 19 months at the Alhayer Prison in Riyadh. He has not been given any opportunities to contact his family; the last contact was a less-than two minute call between him and his father seven months after the arrest.
Sheikh Alhilal’s family still recalls the terrifying events of his violent abduction. Police cars and other vehicles armed with machine guns surrounded the neighborhood of Sheikh Alhilal’s house where they had arrested him that morning. Several civilian-dressed soldiers stormed into the house afterward, wherein Sheikh Alhilal’s wife and days-old baby resided. His wife, unaware of the situation regarding her husband’s arrest, had refused to open the door until she was properly dress.
However, the civilian- dressed officials broke into the house, weapons drawn. The house was on lock-down for two hours despite the pleas from concerned family members.
The soldiers subsequently went to another family member’s house where they believed Sheikh Alhilal may have stored personal belongings. They brought Sheikh Alhilal to the residence; his hands and feet were bound. The officials confiscated several of his personal items from within the residence.
As stated by Sheikh Alhilal’s family: “We know nothing about [his current situation].” Saudi officials have denied any requests for communication from the family. The family is growing more concerned about his situation as stories about torture and false confessions are common from Saudi prisons. They fear Sheikh Alhilal is being physically and physiologically tortured and may be suffering from subsequent injuries.
Meanwhile, the Saudi officials refused to give a justification for the arrest and will not disclose the charges made.
Seeking information and/or help about the situation, the family had reached out to the following offices/sectors: the Ministry of Interior; the authorities of prisons in Damman and Riyadh; the National Security Center; and the Human Rights Commission. However, none were able to offer any help.
Sheikh Alhilal’s wife was also under investigation. In July 2016, she had received calls from the Saudi Authorities saying she could visit her husband in prison; however, other family members were not allowed to accompany her. Upon arrival, family members had to wait outside in the hot temperature while she was instead taken into an interrogation room where she was interrogated for three hours, suffering verbal abuse as well as physical intimidation.
On October of 2016, his wife was contacted by the Intelligence Agency in Damman asking for a family member to visit their office. Upon visitation, the family member was informed that the wife’s house would be searched. During the search, around $15,433 USD (58,000 Saudi riyals) were confiscated; it was her own earnings/personal money that she had used in to support a small personal business.
Again on April of 2017, the wife was further subjected to interrogation, of which lasted for nearly five hours.
As of September 2017, the family of Sheikh Alhilal has yet to receive word of his situation. There have been no official statements regarding his condition, reasons for arrest, or judicial proceedings. He had been denied a lawyer.
He has thus been silenced.