Leaked reports reveal severe abuse of Saudi political prisoners

Exclusive: cuts, burns and bruising documented, despite government denials of torture

Ha’er Prison in Saudi Arabia
Ha’er prison in Saudi Arabia. Photograph: Faisal Al Nasser/Reuters

Political prisoners in Saudi Arabia are said to be suffering from malnutrition, cuts, bruises and burns, according to leaked medical reports that are understood to have been prepared for the country’s ruler, King Salman.

The reports seem to provide the first documented evidence from within the heart of the royal court that political prisoners are facing severe physical abuse, despite the government’s denials that men and women in custody are being tortured.

The Guardian has been told the medical reports will be given to King Salmanalong with recommendations that are said to include a potential pardon for all the prisoners, or at least early release for those with serious health problems.

These options are part of a substantial internal review said to have been ordered by the king, who approved the commissioning of examinations of up to 60 prisoners, many of them women, for a report to be circulated around the royal court, a source said.

Some of the assessments were leaked to the Guardian, which asked the Saudi government to comment on the medical reports more than a week ago. A spokesman declined to discuss the issue, despite being given repeated opportunities to do so. Officials did not challenge the authenticity of the reports.

The Guardian has been able independently to verify the accuracy and contents of one of the examinations. The conditions of other individuals, as described in the documents, are consistent with reports that have emerged involving claims of torture, though the Guardian has not been able to corroborate the details.



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