“My Charge is Tweet”… The Saudi Regime Admits Tightening the Grip on Social Media Users
“My charge is a tweet!”… With these words, a Saudi detainee started his interview in a state-run TV channel when he was asked about the reasons behind his arrest in Saudi jails.
The “Blind Spot” TV program, presented by Salah Al-Ghidan, aired an interview titled “The Art of Justice” with a detainee who was tried under the Information Crimes Law for a tweet he shared on his Twitter account. Unsurprisingly, he regretted the tweet and admitted that it was an “offensive tweet” and not an “expression of opinion”.
The detainee said that the prison sentences issued against detainees for “offensive tweets” are between 1 and 5 years, while the prison sentences for “incitement” charges are up to 15 years.
The detainee, whose name and face were not revealed, confirmed that he did not know that his tweet was considered “offensive”, advising every Twitter user to “think twice and read the law before writing any tweet” so that he would not face any security prosecution.
The Saudi regime allowed this interview to be aired in a state-run TV channel as evidence of its transparency and justice. However, it was evidence of its repression policy against social media users.
“Did you imagine that you could be imprisoned for a tweet!… No!” The interviewer’s question is an evidence to condemn the Saudi regime itself as it is considered a clear admission by the state that the detainee was only imprisoned over is a “tweet.”
There are no clear criteria to distinguish between an “offensive tweet” and a “critical tweet”. It is up to the judge, investigators, and security services to decide. This confirms the politicisation of the Saudi judicial system.
In this regard, we confirm that this interview as a clear message to all those who defend the Saudi regime and justify its repressive policies against any critical voice. Time has come for a real change to save hundreds of detainees who denied their freedom for a tweet!
We also stress the need for an urgent international intervention to put an end to the Saudi repressive and unfair practices against dissidents, and to investigate all the unfair prison sentences issued against them.