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Saudi Arabia threatens online satirists with jail time

Those who share or produce satirical material could face five years in jail [AFP]

Date of publication: 4 September, 2018

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Saudi Arabia has continued its clampdown on dissent and online freedoms with the threat of a five-year prison term for online satirists.


Saudi Arabia has warned of harsh punishments for online satirists and those who share their content, as the kingdom continues its crackdown on dissent and online freedoms.

The country's Public Prosecutor posted a tweet on Monday warning that those charged with committing an "informational crime" on social media that "affects public order, religious values and public morals" could be imprisoned for five years and fined 3 million riyals ($800,000).

Over the last year, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has led a clampdown on prominent critics and opponents.

Among those arrested have been businessmen, public intellectuals, clerics, activists and rival members of the Saudi royal family.

The clampdown has coincided with the prince's ambitious economic overhaul and loosening of conservative social restrictions, including the country's controversial ban on women driving.

On Tuesday, Saudi public prosecutors called for the death penalty for prominent cleric Salman al-Awdah, who was arrested last year shortly after he criticised the kingdom's blockade of Qatar.

Awdah posted a tweet in September 2017 saying: "May God harmonise between their hearts for the good of their people" - an apparent call for reconciliation between the Gulf countries.

Prior to his arrest, Awdah had garnered a Twitter following of over 14 million.

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