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Saudi jailed for 15 years for supporting executed opposition cleric

Local media said the man had 'sympathised' with Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr, an influential Shia cleric who was executed along with 46 others in January
Protesters in Bahrain hold images of the executed Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr bearing the caption 'The blood of martyrdom' (AFP)

A court in Riyadh has sentenced a Saudi national to 15 years in prison for supporting executed Shia cleric Nimr al-Nimr, local media reported on Thursday.

Local newspapers said the man, who has not been publicly named, had "chanted anti-state slogans and sympathised with the deceased Nimr".

Nimr and three other members of the kingdom's Shia community - which makes up around 10 percent of its total population - were among 47 people convicted of terrorism and executed on a single day in January.

The executions provoked anger within Saudi Arabia and concern in the West, and raised tensions between Sunni-dominated Saudi Arabia and Iran.

Nimr was a driving force behind pro-reform protests that began in 2011. 

Those protests later developed into a call for equality in the kingdom where Shia Muslims, most of whom live in the kingdom's east, complain of marginalisation.

The Al-Riyadh newspaper did not name the convicted man, who it said took part "in rallies and marches" in the Shia-majority Gulf coast district of Qatif.

He was also convicted of "chanting anti-state slogans and sympathising with the deceased Nimr", as well as helping to block roads and burn tyres, it said.

Among other accusations, the newspaper said he was willing to provide "the materials needed to make explosives" for attacks in the kingdom.

Nimr's Qatif-area hometown of Awamiya has been the scene of repeated security incidents since 2011.

After the protests started, police issued a list of 23 wanted people. Many suspects on that list have already been detained or killed in shootouts.