Middle East

Palestinians appeal for poet on death row in Saudi Arabia

Palestinian intellectuals and writers have gathered in the West Bank to read poems and call for the release of a Palestinian poet awaiting execution in Saudi Arabia.

Thursday's readings in the city of Ramallah were part of a campaign launched by the International Literature Festival in Berlin for works of Ashraf Fayadh to be read in 42 countries to press that his life be spared.

Human Rights Watch says Fayadh was convicted and sentenced to death on charges of blasphemy, spreading atheism and having illicit relationships with women, based on photographs found on his mobile phone. He told the court the photographs were of women he had met at an art gallery.

Poet Mahmoud Abu Hashhash says no poet "should be punished for his creation" but awarded for his art.