By Courtney Trenwith
Prominent Saudi lawyer warns re-posting inappropriate remarks could lead to 5yrs jail, $800,000 fine
Twitter users who re-post offensive comments in Saudi Arabia have been warned they face the same punishment as the original commentator.
Prominent Saudi lawyer Humoud Al Khaldi said penalties of up to five years’ jail and a maximum fine of SR3m ($800,000) could be enforced on anyone involved in the production, transmission or storage of material infringing on public order, religious values or privacy, under the Anti-Cyber Crime Law.
“Computer crime that takes place on Twitter, a leading social networking site that is used widely, poses a threat to the cohesion of the social fabric of society,” Al Khaldi was quoted as saying by Arab News.
“Many have exploited Twitter to propagate false ideas and aberrant practices that many have fallen victim to, disregarding the moral and ethical values of our society, religion and traditions.
“Hundreds of users posting anonymously or under fictitious names speak on issues which they are ignorant of, making judgmental remarks and instigating unrest. This reinforces the importance of implementing strict laws to prevent such forms of cyber crime from taking place on Saudi and Gulf soil.”
The kingdom – and other Gulf states – has jailed several Twitter users and bloggers in recent years for comments deemed offensive to the government, King Abdullah or Islam.
Under its new anti-terrorism legislation, which came into effect on February 2, residents also can be arrested and detained for disturbing public order, defaming the reputation of the state or threatening the kingdom’s unity, attracting criticism from human rights groups concerned the law could be used to quash political dissent.