Middle East

Saudi activists urge visits to jailed cleric

Shiite cleric and goverment critic Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr lies wounded in the back of a police car, following his arrest on July 8, 2012. (AFP PHOTO/STR)

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates: A Saudi Arabian activist group is urging international rights organizations to seek fact-finding visits with a jailed Shiite cleric. His arrest on anti-state charges has sharply escalated tensions in Saudi Arabia's restive eastern region.

Sunday's statement by the Al-Sharaq Human Rights Center expresses concern for Sheik Nimr al-Nimr, claiming he has not been allowed to see lawyers or relatives since his arrest earlier this month.

Saudi officials had no immediate comment.

Authorities say al-Nimr was arrested after a gunbattle in Saudi Arabia's oil-rich eastern province, where security forces have clashed with minority Shiite protesters demanding greater rights from the country's Sunni monarchy.

On Friday, the Interior Ministry said a militant gunman was killed during an attack on a police station in the region.





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