June 3, 2010
U.S. Department of State
2201 C Street NW
Washington, DC 20520
202-647-4000 (ask for the Saudi desk)
Hadi Saeed Al-Mutif is a Saudi citizen who has been in prison since January 1994 due to his religious beliefs, making him the longest-held prisoner in the world. This has been ignored by Arab media and the international community for political and sectarian reasons.
Hadi is born on June 23, 1975, and grew up in southern Saudi Arabia in Najran – an ethnically and culturally unique part of Saudi Arabia, where the Ismaili Shi’a Muslim branch exists.
At the age of 18, he began training at Najran police camp to become a policeman and allegedly made an offensive remark about the Prophet Muhammad during afternoon prayers in the mosque. Three of his colleagues at the training camp reported him to the local authorities, and he was detained in November 1993. Not knowing what to do with Hadi, the local police officers handed him over to the domestic intelligence service. He was officially arrested and imprisoned on January 20, 1994. During custody, Hadi was subject to torture and beatings, and was forced to sign a confession. He was sentenced to death in 1996 by hardliner Wahhabi judge Abdullah Al-Mokhlaf who decided that he was guilty.
Saudi Arabia’s monarch, King Abdullah bin Abdelaziz al-Saud, has pardoned several prisoners of conscience, but conspicuously refused to pardon Hadi. This can be attributed to Hadi’s faith; he is an Ismaili Shi’a in a country where the Wahhabi Sunni faith is seen as the only legitimate form of Islam.
Several appeals to King Abdullah by Hadi’s family for his release were rejected, because of his Ismaili Shi’a faith. The Saudi Government Human Rights Commission misled his family about releasing Hadi, in order for the family to stop rallying support for him. He has suffered torture, threats, solitary confinement, depression, psychosis, and has attempted several times to end his life through hunger strikes, two in 2006 alone.
In February 2007, Hadi’s story aired on an American TV station Al-Hurra when he spoke of his tragedy. He was immediately moved to a maximum security prison in Aseer by Mohammad bin Nayef, son and assistant of Saudi interior minister, and has since been held in solitary confinement. Bin Nayef ordered an additional five years to Hadi’s sentence.
On March 29, 2010, Hadi was moved from the maximum security prison back to his hometown prison in Najran, because of abuses carried out against him by Al-Qaeda terrorist inmates. January 20, 2011 will mark his 17th year in prison, making Hadi the longest-held religious prisoner in the world today.
We are asking the State Department to pressure the Saudi Kingdom to release Hadi al-Mutif and grant him asylum into the United States. King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia is meeting with President Barack Obama in Washington D.C. and we would like to plead with the King to release Hadi.