Saudi Arabia condemns 13-year-old protester to death

Murtaja Qureiris.jpg

Murtaja Qureiris, who was arrested at age 13 for participating in protests in eastern Saudi Arabia, is now facing execution at age 18.

Saudi authorities arrested him three years after the 2011 Arab Spring protests, CNN reports. Qureiris has spent nearly four years in pretrial detention. He was 10 when at least one of the offenses he’s charged with was committed: accompanying his brother on a motorcycle ride to a police station in the city of Awamiya, where his brother allegedly threw Molotov cocktails at the building.

CNN said it has seen video footage of Qureiris, when he was 10, leading a group of about 30 boys on bicycles in a protest and shouting, “The people demand human rights!” into a megaphone.

Amnesty International said it has confirmed that prosecutors have sought the death penalty against Qureiris. That shows, an official said, that Saudi Arabia will do anything to stop dissent, including “resorting to the death penalty for men who were merely boys at the time of their arrest.”

Executing a person younger than 18 is against international law, the organization said.

Other charges against Qureiris, who is awaiting his next appearance in court, include marching at the funeral of his brother, who was killed in a protest in 2011.

Qureiris has denied the charges, per CNN, and said his confessions were obtained under duress.