The sister of a taxi driver on Death Row in Saudi Arabia is asking former England striker Alan Shearer to help save her brother’s life.
Zeinab Abu al-Kheir wrote to the Match of the Day pundit after he said he wanted to ‘listen to the evidence about human rights abuses’ in the desert kingdom following the Saudi takeover of his former club, Newcastle United.
She also asked seven-time formula champion Lewis Hamilton to speak out about the case when he raced in the country’s first ever Grand Prix on Sunday.
In her letter to Shearer, Zeinab wrote: ‘Officers tortured my brother for 12 days until he ‘confessed’.
They hung him from the ceiling by his feet, with his head down, and beat him on his face, stomach and hands. We could see the marks this torture left on his body for a year’.
Zeinab told Shearer: ‘The Saudi regime commits so many human rights abuses and the Newcastle takeover is just one of the many ways that the kingdom is trying to falsify and re-shape its image.
‘People like my brother don’t have a PR agency or a TV channel to tell their story, so they rely on people with a platform and a voice to raise their cases: people like you.
‘As you say it is really important that we don’t ‘brush’ Saudi human rights abuses ‘under the carpet’ I urge you to raise Hussein’s case with the Saudi authorities – as a Newcastle FC legend your voice will be heard by the club’s new owners. You can save his life’.
According to the human rights charity, Reprieve, almost half of all executions in 2019 were for drug offences, mostly involving foreigners.
Jeed Basyouni, head of Reprieve’s Middle East Division, said: ‘There’s no question that Saudi Arabia’s rulers hope buying Newcastle FC will help them sportswash human rights abuses, but it doesn’t have to be this way.
‘The club and the fans can demand better from their new owners – starting with an end to all death sentences and executions for non-violent crimes.
‘Hussein is a classic case of an unwitting drug mule paying the penalty while the kingpins walk free.
‘We’re talking about a poor taxi driver with eight kids.
‘The idea that he had the money to buy a large shipment of amphetamines or the underworld connections to sell them would be laughable if it wasn’t so tragic.’
Read the full story in the Mail Online.