Saudi Man Given 8 Years for Inciting Protests on Twitter
A Saudi court on Sunday jailed an Islamist for eight years on charges of inciting protests, mocking the monarch and criticizing the security services on Twitter, AFP reported citing the official Saudi Arabian news agency SPA.
The defendant, who was not identified, had been convicted of inciting "families of those arrested for security reasons to protest by publishing Tweets and videos on YouTube," justice ministry spokesman Fahd al-Bakran was quoted by SPA as saying.
Prosecutors also found the defendant guilty of "mocking" King Abdullah, Saudi scholars and the judiciary, as well as criticizing security services for arresting "promoters of extremist ideology."
In addition to the jail sentence, the court banned the defendant from travelling for eight years and posting on social media, reported AFP.
Security forces had previously arrested the accused on similar charges, but freed them after they signed a pledge not to take part in such activities again.
Saudi Arabia has in the past jailed people for offenses on social media. Several months ago, a 30-year-old Saudi national was sentenced to 50 lashes for insulting members of his own tribe on Twitter.
Previously, the kingdom sent seven people to jail for up to ten years for posting status messages on Facebook calling for anti-government protests.
Social media is viewed with deep suspicion throughout much of the Arab world as it is difficult to sensor, allowing dissidents and political opposition groups to communicate more freely and sometimes in anonymity.
The Saudi government makes a routine practice of closely monitoring all social networking sites, including Facebook and Twitter, which is extremely popular among Saudis.
Sunday’s sentence came two days after the Saudi interior ministry published a list of "terror" groups including the Muslim Brotherhood, Al-Nusra Front, which is Al-Qaeda's official Syrian affiliate, and the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, another jihadist group fighting in Syria and Iraq.
Saudi Arabia's interior ministry has said it will prosecute those who back such groups "financially or morally", or seek to promote them in the media and on social networks.
It also forbids "participation in, calling for, or incitement to fighting in conflict zones in other countries" as well as calling for demonstrations or taking part in them.
Last month, King Abdullah announced courts would issue jail terms of up to 20 years for anyone belonging to "terrorist groups" and fighting abroad.