A political and human rights activist in Saudi Arabia was sentenced to 300 lashes and four years in prison for defying the king and calling for democracy . Omar al-Saeed, a member of the Saudi Civil and Political Rights Association (ACPRA), was sentenced in the city of Buraidah on Dec. 12 and is the fourth of his group to be imprisoned this year because "he pushs for democracy and human rights".
Middle East researcher for advocacy group Human Rights Watch "Adam Coogle" told NBC News that since Saudi Arabia has no formal penal code, the charges against al-Saeed and the other group members are arbitrary.
Coogle said that lashings are an "incredibly common" form of punishment in Saudi Arabia for those who " insult the ruler, break allegiance with the king or insult the king".
Coogle added that the arrests of openly subversive political activists began in earnest in 2012 in an attempt to stave political opposition and disobedience.