The brother of a well-known Shiite cleric says the sheik has been sentenced to death by a court in Saudi Arabia.

Sheik Nimr al-Nimr's brother, Mohammed al-Nimr, announced the verdict Wednesday on Twitter. He also wrote that the family would release a statement with more details.

He had told The Associated Press earlier Wednesday that he would be in the courtroom for the verdict. He could not be immediately reached again for comment.

Shiite activist Jaafar al-Shayeb in eastern Saudi Arabia says the verdict appears to have been handed down for criminal offenses over the "incitement" of Shiite protests in Saudi Arabia and neighboring Bahrain.

He says there is concern that the death sentence of the revered 54-year-old cleric will spark anger and renewed protests by the kingdom's minority Shiites.