Amnesty reveals Saudi tactics to repress Internet users

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Amnesty International has published a report which reveals some of the Al Saud regime’s repressive tactics to silence online activists in the Persian Gulf kingdom.

On Saturday, the renowned rights group published an interview with an unnamed Saudi online activist, who warned that the authorities in Saudi Arabia have stepped up their crackdown on dissidents through “investigations, arrests and short-term detentions of journalists, athletes, poets, bloggers, activists and tweeters.”

The blogger further said the Riyadh regime seeks to stifle dissidents by resorting to its so-called Terrorism Law and blames the people who contact human rights organizations as “terrorists.”

Riyadh is also using the “shameful” Terrorism Law to exercise censorship “at its maximum” level and apply surveillance methods to hack and monitor activists’ accounts.

“Courts issue prison sentences of 10 years or more as a result of a single tweet,” he said.

In other cases, Saudi security officials harass and threaten online activists and their families and impose restrictions on “almost every aspect” of the individuals’ lives, according to the blogger.

Saudi online activists are also at the risk of losing their jobs and many of them face false allegations of being ‘atheists’ or ‘demented,’ the report said.

Brutal punishments are another tactic used by the regime to create an intimidating atmosphere for Internet activists, including handing down “punishments from the Middle Ages, like flogging, hefty fines and exaggerated prison terms,” the activist added.

Earlier this year, Saudi authorities sentenced Raif Badawi to 10 years in jail and one thousand lashes for only setting up a website.

Reporters Without Borders has named Saudi Arabia, which is ruled by a hereditary royal system, as one of the “enemies of the Internet” for its censorship and surveillance.

In July, then UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, censured Saudi Arabia for harassing human rights activists under a failed judicial system.

Activists say there are over 30,000 political prisoners in Saudi Arabia.

Saudi authorities have also defied calls by international rights groups to end what has been described as violations of women’s rights in the monarchy.

ASH/MKA

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