DUBAI : A Saudi reformist writer who called his fellow intellectuals “cowards” and his country racist has been handed a four-year prison sentence and banned from writing, his lawyer and son said Monday.

Zuhair Kutbi “was sentenced to four years prison” and ordered not to write for 15 years, lawyer Ibrahim al-Midaymiq tweeted at @imodattorney. Half of the sentence was suspended, meaning he will serve the other two years. Kutbi’s son Jameel Zuhair Kutbi gave the same information at @DrEngJimmy. “My father has been sentenced,” Jameel wrote.

The writer was also fined 100,000 riyals ($26,667) and banned from travelling for five years, they said. In a tweet on Sunday, the son said his father was to be sentenced by a “terrorism” court.

It was not immediately clear what he was guilty of, but activists have accused Saudi Arabia of using such courts to target members of civil society in a country whose rights record has come under intense Western scrutiny.

New York-based Human Rights Watch said in August that Kutbi, 62, was detained after an interview in June in which he called for reforms including “transforming the country into a constitutional monarchy and combating religious and political repression”.

It said authorities apparently questioned him about his television appearance on the private Rotana Khalijiya channel, “which had attracted considerable attention on social media”.

According to translated excerpts of the show carried by the US-based Middle East Media Research Institute, Kutbi said he had been jailed six times.

He said he had also been sent to an “insane asylum” for demanding reform.

Kutbi said most Saudi intellectuals “do not speak the truth” and “racism and regionalism” are part of Saudi identity, according to MEMRI.

Separately, a poetess who presented an “inappropriate poem” at an event linked to the Jeddah International Book Fair has been banned from participating in future activities in the Red Sea region, Al-Riyadh newspaper reported on Monday.

It quoted Saud Katib, chairman of the book fair’s cultural committee, as saying Hind Mutairi committed “an unacceptable breach”, but he did not give details about her poem.

Saudi Arabia, an ultra-conservative Islamic kingdom where restrictions on women are among the tightest in the world, ranked 164 out of 180 on this year’s World Press Freedom Index.