Saudi police release journalist who posed as a doctor for investigative story

Abdul Aziz Al-Ghamdi’s case had divided opinion in Saudi Arabia. (Photo/Supplied)
Updated 03 August 2018

Saudi police release journalist who posed as a doctor for investigative story

  • Abdul Aziz Al-Ghamdi dressed up as a doctor to do an investigative report on three hospitals in Jeddah
  • The Ministry of Health pressed for Al-Ghamdi's prosecution, while the Ministry of Media said what he did was journalistically acceptable

JEDDAH: Police in Saudi Arabia have released a journalist who went undercover as a doctor to pursue an investigative story.

Abdul Aziz Al-Ghamdi reportedly dressed up as doctor and equipped with a stethoscope as part of an investigation into three hospitals in Jeddah. 

His report revealed several security lapses at the hospitals, given that he said he was not asked for identification, as well as long waiting times for patients, according to media reports. 

Al-Ghamdi reportedly claimed that no one stopped him from entering the hospital buildings, where he was able to access wards and even check up on patients.

Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Health later pressed for prosecution on charges of impersonating a doctor and invading the privacy of patients, leading to the reporter being detained for two days. 

Jeddah police later released Al-Ghamdi after receiving a letter from the General Prosecutor’s Office, and his case is now expected to be referred to the Ministry of Media. 

However, Arab News has learned that his release came as a result of efforts made by the Ministry of Media which argued that Al-Ghamdi’s behavior was journalistically acceptable and for the public good. 

Al-Ghamdi thanked his editor at Al-Madinah newspaper and other officials as he left the police department.

“I would like to thank Attorney General Sheikh Saud Al-Mojeb, Minister of Media Awwad Al-Awwad, the editor in chief of Al-Madinah newspaper Fahd Al-Aqran, my colleagues and all those who stood by me for their efforts and support,” he told Arab News on Thursday.

Al-Ghamdi’s case had divided opinion in Saudi Arabia. Some argued that his actions were vital to the work of a free press, and criticized the Ministry of Health pressing for prosecution. Yet others believe it was wrong for Al-Ghamdi to impersonate a doctor.

Saudi, UAE officials discuss Hajj preparations

Updated 50 min 15 sec ago

Saudi, UAE officials discuss Hajj preparations

  • Mashat stressed the Saudi government’s keenness to serve pilgrims

MAKKAH: Deputy Hajj and Umrah Minister Abdul Fattah Mashat received in his office in Makkah on Tuesday the director general of the General Authority for Islamic Affairs in the UAE and his delegation.

The meeting came within the framework of early preparations for the next Hajj season, including coordinating arrangements for pilgrims and services provided for them.

During the meeting, issues of common interest related to Hajj were discussed, at the forefront of which were the facilities provided to pilgrims and easy completion of their procedures.

Then an official meeting was held to discuss arrangements and early preparations to serve pilgrims from the UAE. Subsequently, Mashat and the director general signed an agreement for Hajj arrangements.

In a press statement after the signing, Mashat stressed the Saudi government’s keenness to serve pilgrims.

The director general thanked the Saudi government and all those in charge of the Hajj system for their great efforts.

“We see excellence and advancement in the Hajj management system and by Saudi human cadres,” he said.

“We wish them all the best, and we in the UAE are part of this system and a partner in the service of pilgrims.”