Muhammad Salih al-Bajady, Saudi Arabia
As democratic protest movements have swept across the Middle East, Saudi Arabia has remained a bastion of conservative resistance to reform. In 2009, Muhammad Salih al-Bajady, a 35-year-old businessman, helped to found the Saudi Civil and Political Rights Association, which the Saudi government has not recognized. Al-Bajady worked to uncover human rights violations in the Kingdom, including torture and arbitrary detention. He was arrested on March 21, 2011 -- a day after he participated in a peaceful protest in front of the Riyadh Interior Ministry for the release of long-term detainees without trial -- and spent months in solitary confinement. During his secret trial in early 2012, he was not allowed legal counsel. He was found guilty of founding an unlicensed human rights organization, and is serving a four-year sentence in al-Ha’ir prison, south of Riyadh.