VPN Users Face Prison Sentence and Fines in Saudi Arabia

Together for Justice expressed deep concern over the adoption of an article in the Cybercrime Law that forbids the use of VPN programs and subjects its users to up to 500,000 riyals in fines and imprisonment.

The state-run TV channel Al-Akhbariya reports that under paragraph (3) of Article Three of the Anti-Cybercrime Law, anyone using a VPN may be charged with “joining terrorist organizations and harming national security.” This carries a fine of 500,000 Saudi riyals and a maximum sentence of one year in prison, both of which may be imposed concurrently.

Even though the aforementioned article did not specifically mention the VPN program, it was evident that the words were manipulated. This is a characteristic of Saudi legislation that depends on the use of imprecise and broad terminology that are then used by the judiciary to apply harsh penalties against prisoners of conscience.

According to this article, “Anyone who accesses an electronic website illegally shall be punished with one of the following two penalties: imprisonment for a year or a fine of 500,000 riyals.”

During the Fox News interview, MBS blamed the harsh prison sentences against social media activists on “bad laws” that he cannot change for reasons he did not reveal or that the journalist has asked for. He also vowed to reform these “ashamed laws.” However, no reforms have been made since then. Rather, a number of arbitrary laws and orders were issued, in addition to unjust life imprisonment sentences and high financial fines against social media activists.

We declare that this kind of legislation is a flagrant infringement on the right to free speech and a dangerous step forward in the repressive behavior of the Saudi regime. We emphasize that this decision raises concerns about worse things to come if the international community stays silent in the face of these oppressive laws and applies no pressure on the Saudi regime to guarantee the rights of its citizens to express their opinion and their right to access the Internet.

In terms of human rights, Saudi Arabia is currently going through its darkest period since Mohammed bin Salman became crown prince in 2017. Since then, the regime has arrested hundreds of critics, activists, writers, and thinkers and waged an unprecedented campaign of repression against freedom of speech. Furthermore, under MBS’s orders, Saudi forces have committed war crimes against Yemenis. Additionally, they have threatened and persecuted opponents abroad, which resulted in Jamal Khashoggi’s assassination. The danger persists for everyone as a result of the millions of dollars the Saudi regime spends on espionage and surveillance methods.

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button