Saudi Kingdom releases Iranian cleric
An Iranian cleric, detained in Saudi Arabia on charges of religious sacrilege, has been released after nearly one month in detention, Press TV reported.
Hojatoleslam Mohammad Garmab-Dashti was arrested during the minor Hajj pilgrimage in Mecca after a Wahabi man accused him of "spiting on the grave" of the first Caliph.
"They shackled me to another man and took me to a judge. I swore upon Allah that I had not committed the act I was being accused of, and I told them that their witness only sought to created discord among Muslims," the cleric told the Qom seminary news website.
He was eventually sentenced to one month in an "extremely dirty" prison where "cockroaches got to the food quicker" than the detainees.
The prison cell had "no light and no clock ... making it difficult for us to tell the prayer time, it was an extremely difficult situation."
"The prison guards had been told that I had desecrated the grave of the first Caliph and they insulted me and used words such as dog and animal, to transfer me from one part of the prison to another they made me walk a one-kilometer distance on scorching asphalt bear foot and in shackles," Garmab-Dashti said of his situation.
The cleric had made it clear to the Saudi court that he does not accept the charges against him, a protest which resulted in his sentence being increased to three months and 75 lashes.
The cleric's lawyer, appointed by the Iranian embassy and the office of the leader of the Islamic Revolution in Saudi Arabia, had also asked the court to review footage on surveillance camera on the premises. The request was ignored by the court.
During his time in prison, Garmab-Dashti had interacted with many Saudis who said they did not have any belief in the ruling family.
"In the absence of elections, the whole Kingdom, the prisoners said, was just another country ruled under a system of succession," he said.
The cleric was finally released after "the Iranian Embassy pressed the office of the governor of Medina on the issue."
"It was decided that I would be released along with some other Iranian prisoners," he said.
He was then transferred to the Medina airport and flown to Jeddah in a small aircraft.
"They were disrespectful up to the last minute and did not return my personal belongings or my cellphone which was taken upon my arrest," he added.