Saudi Arabia’s new terrorism law permits prosecution of protesters demanding reform, exposing corruption

Saudi Arabia's new terrorism law permits prosecution of protesters demanding reform, exposing corruption

Photo: EPA

Saudi Arabia put into effect a new counterterrorism law Sunday that human rights activists say allows the kingdom to prosecute as a terrorist anyone who demands reform, exposes corruption or otherwise engages in dissent.

The law states that any act that “undermines” the state or society, including calls for regime change in Saudi Arabia, can be tried as an act of terrorism. It also grants security services broad powers to raid homes and track phone calls and Internet activity.

Saudi Arabia’s new counter-terrorism law that activists say criminalizes speech critical of the government went into effect on Sunday.

The new legislation, signed into law by King Abdullah, defines terrorism as any act “intended to disturb the public order, shake the security of society or the stability of the state, or to insult the reputation of the state.”

Inflicting damage on the kingdom’s public utilities or natural resources is also considered a terrorist act under the new law.

Both Saudis and foreigners can now be tried as terrorists irrespective of their place of residence.

The law, which was approved by the government on December 16, also gives security forces the right to detain suspects without charge for up to six months.[More]