Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Saudi Economist Who Criticized Aramco IPO Charged with Terrorism

Essam al-Zamil
This is how they roll in the Saudi Kingdom.

Saudi Arabia’s public prosecutor has charged Essam al-Zamil, identified by activists as a prominent economist who once criticized plans to float shares of Saudi Aramco, with joining a terrorist organization and meeting with foreign diplomats, reports Reuters.

Local media, including Arabic-language newspaper Okaz, reported on Monday that the accusations include membership in the banned Muslim Brotherhood as well as communicating with neighboring Qatar and inciting protests inside Saudi Arabia.

Zamil has been detained since Sept. 2017 along with dozens of intellectuals and clerics in a crackdown on potential opponents of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, whose ambitious economic reform program centered on selling up to five percent of the state-owned Aramco oil company, notes Reuters.

In a series of social media posts before his arrest, Zamil said the $2 trillion valuation for Aramco suggested by Prince Mohammed would require the authorities to include the company’s oil reserves in the sale.

The charges against Zamil, according to Okaz, include giving foreign diplomats “information and analysis about the kingdom” without informing the authorities or obtaining permission from them.

The report did not provide details, according to Reuters, but that accusation echoes state media’s labeling of women’s rights activists arrested in May as traitors and “agents of embassies”, which unnerved diplomats in Saudi Arabia, a key U.S. ally.


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