The release last night of Mohammed al-‘Ajami, also known as Ibn al-Dheeb, is a welcome development that ends a needless four year ordeal for the Qatari poet.
Amnesty International has spoken to Mohammed al-‘Ajami’s legal representative, who said that relatives of the poet confirmed to him that the poet was released around 7.30pm Doha time on 15 March. The organization has also seen video footage of him after his release.
“The release of Mohammed al-‘Ajami is long overdue good news,” said James Lynch, Deputy Director of Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa program,
“It is absurd that he had to spend more than four years behind bars, when his poetry was simply the peaceful expression of his conscientiously held beliefs.
“We hope that the authorities will take the opportunity of this release to review Qatar’s criminal justice system and ensure that such flagrant violations of the right to freedom of expression are not repeated. This case has been a blight on Qatar’s international reputation.”
The terms of Mohammed al-‘Ajami’s release are not yet clear. It is essential that the authorities do not impose conditions on Mohammed al-‘Ajami’s peaceful exercise of his rights, including his right to freedom of expression. Prisoners of conscience should be released immediately and unconditionally.