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Saudi Man Receives Death Penalty For Posts Online


An anonymous reader quotes a report from the Associated Press: A Saudi court has sentenced a man to death over his posts on X, formerly known as Twitter, and his activity on YouTube, the latest in a widening crackdown on dissent in the kingdom that has drawn international criticism. The judgement against Mohammed bin Nasser al-Ghamdi, seen Wednesday by The Associated Press, comes against the backdrop of doctoral student Salma al-Shehab and others facing decades-long prison sentences over their comments online. The sentences appear part of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s wider effort to stamp out any defiance in the kingdom as he pursues massive building projects and other diplomatic deals to raise his profile globally. According to court documents, the charges levied against al-Ghamdi include “betraying his religion,” “disturbing the security of society,” “conspiring against the government” and “impugning the kingdom and the crown prince” — all for his activity online that involved re-sharing critics’ posts. Saudi officials offered no reason for why they specifically targeted al-Ghamdi, a retired school teacher living in the city of Mecca. However, his brother, Saeed bin Nasser al-Ghamdi, is a well-known critic of the Saudi government living in the United Kingdom. “This false ruling aims to spite me personally after failed attempts by the investigators to have me return to the country,” the brother tweeted last Thursday. Saudi Arabia has used arrests of family members in the past as a means to pressure those abroad into returning home, activists and those targeted in the past say. […]

Saudi Arabia is one of the world’s top executioners, behind only China and Iran in 2022, according to Amnesty International. The number of people Saudi Arabia executed last year — 196 inmates — was the highest recorded by Amnesty in 30 years. In one day alone last March, the kingdom executed 81 people, the largest known mass execution carried out in the kingdom in its modern history. However, al-Ghamdi’s case appears to be the first in the current crackdown to level the death penalty against someone for their online behavior.

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