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RIYADH, Saudi Arabia — The Anonymous hacktivist collective is joining an array of international voices in demanding a halt to the impending execution of a 21-year-old man sentenced to death by crucifixion by the Saudi Arabian government.
Ali Mohammed al-Nimr was condemned to be crucified, which under Saudi law means he will first be beheaded, and then his body will be publicly displayed. His uncle, Sheikh Nimr Baqir al-Nimr, is a well-known political dissident and Shiite cleric who has spoken out against the repressive ruling party of Saudi Arabia, and now faces the same fate as his nephew.
The Saudi government accuses the younger al-Nimr of “‘breaking allegiance with the ruler,’ ‘going out to a number of marches, demonstrations, and gatherings against the state and repeating some chants against the state,’ and using his cell phone to incite demonstrations,” as well as protecting wanted criminals from the police and throwing Molotov cocktails, according to a report from CNN’s Adam Coogle. He has denied all the charges, which stem from events alleged to have occurred when he was 16 years old.
Coogle notes that Saudi Arabia is one of only three countries, also including Iran and Sudan, which maintains the death penalty for charges committed as a juvenile offender. On Sept. 14, al-Nimr exhausted his appeals with the Saudi Supreme Court.
Among the many critics of the death sentence and the overall case against Ali Mohammed al-Nimr is Jeremy Corbyn, the recently elected leader of UK’s Labour Party. In a letter to David Cameron, he called on the Prime Minister to intervene in the “horrific” sentence, arguing that the al-Nimrs have been targeted not for any actual capital crimes but for their participation in the Arab Spring pro-democracy protests and subsequent objections to their government’s repeated human rights violations.
With the younger al-Nimr’s execution originally scheduled to take place last weekend, Anonymous hacktivists launched #OpNimr, a concerted effort to target the Saudi Arabian Internet as a way of pressuring the government to halt the execution.
“Thousands of people die each year because of the Saudi Arabian government and they will now be punished for their actions,” Anonymous said in the video.
Saudi Arabia is on pace to double the number of executions carried out this year over last year, and has caused widespread civilian suffering and death with its Yemen bombing campaign. Ironically, news of the impending execution came as Saudi Arabia took over the Chair of the United Nations Human Rights Council.
@OpNimr, a major account in Anonymous’ cyber attack on the Saudi government, reported dozens of websites taken offline over the weekend. As of Monday afternoon, the fates of Ali Mohammed and Sheikh Nimr Baqr al-Nimr were uncertain and the cyber attack is ongoing, with new targets for hacktivists being released even as this article was being written.