Online satire declared punishable offence in Saudi Arabia

02:49 PM | 5 Sep, 2018
Online satire declared punishable offence in Saudi Arabia
RIYADH - Saudi Arabia has announced punishment of up to five years in prison for satire on social media that 'disrupts public order', the public prosecutor said on Tuesday, in a latest crackdown on dissenting voices.

“Producing and distributing content that ridicules, mocks, provokes and disrupts public order, religious values and public morals through social media ... will be considered a cybercrime punishable by a maximum of five years in prison and a fine of three million riyals ($800,000),” the public prosecution tweeted late Monday.

The clamping down on online content is a latest in a string of restrictions imposed by the kingdom's all-powerful Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS).

The 32-year-old has drawn criticism from rights groups over the targeting of human rights activists and political dissidents since his surprise appointment in June 2017.

Saudi Arabia's legislation on cybercrime has stirred concerns among international rights groups in the past. Scores of Saudi citizens have been convicted on charges linked to dissent under a previous law, for their Twitter posts.

In September 2017, authorities issued a public call for citizens to the social media activities of their fellow citizens, under a broad definition of “terrorist” crimes.