Seven Facebook users were slapped with prison sentences ranging between five to 10 years for allegedly calling for protests in Saudi Arabia. They were also further banned from travel, after the completion of their sentence.
According to Human Rights Watch:
Saudi authorities arrested the men between September 23 and 26, 2011, then detained them in the General Investigations Prison in Damman for a year and a half before charging them and putting them on trial on April 29. They were tried before the Specialized Criminal Court, set up in 2008 to deal with terrorism-related cases. Authorities did not accuse the seven of directly participating in protests, and the court failed to investigate their allegations that intelligence officers tortured them into signing confessions.
In the court judgment, which Human Rights Watch obtained, the charges against the seven varied. But the court convicted them all of joining Facebook pages to “incite protests, illegal gathering, and breaking allegiance with the king” and of “assisting and encouraging these calls and corresponding with the [Facebook pages’] followers and concealing them.” All seven were also convicted of violating article 6 of the Anti-Cyber Crime Law, which prohibits producing, sending, or storing any material via an information network that “harms public order.”
Yusur Al Bahrani comments:
— Yusur Al-Bahrani (@YusurAlBahrani) June 25, 2013
And activist Tarek Siala asks:
سجن سبعة أشخاص في السعودية لدعوتهم للتظاهر ضد ولي الأمر من خلال صفحات #الفيسبوك لمدة مابين خمسة وعشرين أعوام! والتحريض عالقتل كم عقوبته
— Tarek Siala (@tarksiala) June 30, 2013
Seven people have been jailed in Saudi Arabia for calling for protests against the ruler on Facebook between five to 20 years! What is the punishment for incitement to murder?
Political dissent is not tolerated in Saudi Arabia, an absolute monarchy.