Murtaja Qureiris, who was detained in September 2014, has received an initial 12-year prison sentence with time served since his arrest and four years suspended for his young age, according to the official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity. The sentence is subject to appeal.
“He will not be executed,” the official told Reuters.
Rights groups including Amnesty International reported this month that the Saudi public prosecutor had sought the death penalty for Qureiris for a series of offences, some of which they said date back to when he was 10 years old.
Riyadh has come under mounting international scrutiny over its human rights record since the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi last October and the detention of women’s rights activists who are still on trial.
Austria’s government said on Wednesday it planned to shut a Saudi-funded center for religious dialogue in Vienna after parliament urged it to try to prevent Qureiris’ possible execution.
In April, the kingdom beheaded 37 men for terrorism crimes. The UN human rights chief said most of them were Shias who may not have had fair trials and at least three were minors when sentenced.
Amnesty said in a statement on its website earlier this month that Qureiris was held in solitary confinement upon detention and subjected to beatings and intimidation during his interrogation. The Saudi authorities deny torture allegations and claim they do not have political prisoners.
The Shia-majority Eastern Province, where Qureiris is from, became a focal point of unrest in early 2011 with demonstrations calling for an end to discrimination and for reforms in the conservative monarchy.