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 health minister promises to procure tested vaccine

Saudi Health Minister Tawfiq Al-Rabiah. (AP)
Updated 20 October 2020

Saudi health minister promises to procure tested vaccine

  • COVID-19 cases continue to decline in Saudi Arabia

JEDDAH: Saudi Health Minister Dr. Tawfiq Al-Rabiah on Monday said the Kingdom will procure vaccine for the novel coronavirus once it is confirmed to be safe and effective.

He said research on the vaccine is underway in a number of countries and the Saudi health authorities are following the developments.
The number of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) cases continues to decline in the Kingdom with the recovery rate from the illness rising to 96 percent. The minister attributed the decline on the “commitment to health precautions.”
“I also thank my fellow health practitioners for their wonderful efforts,” Al-Rabiah said.
Commenting on the second and stronger wave of COVID-19 in some countries, he said it was due to a lack of “commitment to social distancing” and failure to wear masks and taking other precautions.
He ruled out any leniency on part of the government in its fight against the virus. The minister said it is necessary to abide by precautionary measures to keep the virus at bay.

FASTFACTS

• Saudi Arabia recorded 381 new infections on Monday.

• With 16 new fatalities, the virus-related death toll has risen to 5,201.

“We (all) are in one boat, and the failure of some affects everyone, so we must work together” to check the spread of the virus.
He also advised people who show COVID-19 symptoms to visit Tetamman (rest assured) clinics.
“Appointments can be made through the ministry’s Sehaty app, and anyone who has any questions or wants to consult a doctor can call 937,” the minister said.
Saudi Arabia recorded 381 new infections on Monday. The total number of COVID-19 cases has reached 348,583 since the beginning of the outbreak in the Kingdom.
The Health Ministry said 16 more people died due to complications caused by the virus raising the death toll to 5,201. The ministry also reported 357 new recoveries. The total number of recovered cases has now increased to 328,895.