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This article was published on March 8, 2012

Saudi journalist facing the death penalty for his tweets reportedly to be released

Saudi journalist facing the death penalty for his tweets reportedly to be released

Hamza Kashgari, a journalist deported from Malaysia back to his native Saudi Arabia, where he was wanted on charges of apostasy, is reportedly expected to be freed in the coming weeks.

Kashgari had posted a series of poetic tweets, sharing an imaginary conversation he was having with the Prophet Mohammed. The tweets were deemed blasphemous, prompting a severe backlash, with over 30,000 responses and a Facebook page calling for his execution.

Kashgari deleted the tweets, apologising repeatedly, but to no avail. He fled to Malaysia, with the intention of seeking asylum in New Zealand, but was deported home, where he faced charges of apostasy, which is punishable by death in Saudi Arabia.

Upon his return, Kashgari was detained, with some reports emerging that he had repented for his tweets. Reports of his repentance in a Riyadh court have now begun to surface, with Saudi blogger Ahmed Al Omran confirming it, adding that he is expected to be released in the coming weeks.

Al Omran writes:

Human rights activist Souad al-Shammary tweeted that a Sharia court in the capital has ratified his repentance in the presence of his family, and that he showed his regret over what he has written about the Prophet.

Several tweets and reports in Saudi daily newspapers have emerged with news of his repentance, and UAE-based Emirates 24/7 reports that Kashgari will face a “light sentence.”