The individuals were accused of cooperation with enemy organizations and against the interest of the state. Among the victims were 11 men who were convicted of spying for Iran and 14 others convicted of violent offenses related to their participation in anti-government demonstrations in Saudi Arabia’s Shi’a majority Eastern Province between 2011 and 2012.
All of them were sentenced to death after a trial that Amnesty International says "violated international fair trial standards," relying on confessions extracted during torture.
The men were executed "for adopting terrorist and extremist thinking and for forming terrorist cells to corrupt and destabilize security," a statement by the official Saudi Press Agency (SPA) said.
تنفيذ حكم القتل تعزيرا وإقامة حد الحرابة في عدد من الجناة لتبنيهم الفكر الإرهابي المتطرف وتشكيل خلايا إرهابية للإفساد والإخلال بالأمن وإشاعة الفوضى وإثارة الفتنة الطائفية والإضرار بالسلم والأمن الاجتماعي وجميعهم من الجنسية السعودية.https://t.co/fpadnfMTA4#واسpic.twitter.com/Qey1Gy81Vn
"The death penalty was implemented on a number of criminals for adopting extremist terrorist ideologies and forming terrorist cells to corrupt and disrupt security as well as spreading chaos and provoking sectarian strife"
According to Amnesty International, the families were not informed about the executions in advance.
"Today’s mass execution is a chilling demonstration of the Saudi Arabian authorities callous disregard for human life. It is also yet another gruesome indication of how the death penalty is being used as a political tool to crush dissent from within the country’s Shi’a minority," said Lynn Maalouf Middle East Research Director at Amnesty International.
"The use of the death penalty is always appalling, but it is even more shocking when it is applied after unfair trials or against people who were under 18 at the time of the crime, in flagrant violation of international law," said Lynn Maalouf.
Since the beginning of the year, at least 104 people have been executed by Saudi Arabia and 149 were executed in 2018.