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Television programme editors accused of facilitating the "expression of sin"

(ANHRI/IFEX) - The Arabic Network for Human Rights Information (ANHRI) stated that it is totally unacceptable to bring to trial the editors of the LBC television programme "Ahmar Bel Khat El-Arid" in relation to the case of Mazen Abd El-Gawad, a young Saudi man who was accused of acting sinfully when he appeared on the programme boasting about his sexual adventures. Mazen was sentenced to five years and a flogging of 1000 lashes.

The two female editors of the television programme were accused of facilitating and organizing the show in which Mazen participated by offering technical aid and helping to produce it. This latest development in the case comes after the LBC offices in Saudi Arabia were closed based on a claim that the station did not have a licence.

The Jeddah court requested memorandums from both editors after they denied the accusations of facilitating and providing aid for the "expression of sin", and the case was adjourned pending the submission of additional documents.

Mazen's case stirred up a lot of debate after he appeared on air bragging about his sexual relationships. Many citizens filed lawsuits against him and the public refused to calm down until Mazen was sentenced to five years in prison, a travel ban for another five years, 1000 lashes, and seizure of his car and cell phone, in addition to the sentencing of three of his friends to two years in prison, 300 lashes each and a two-year travel ban. A fourth friend was sentenced to three months in prison and 70 lashes, while another friend was sentenced to two months in prison.

ANHRI questions why the media personnel should be tried for doing their job while the owner of the station, Saudi Prince Al Waleed Ben Talal, is assumed to be totally innocent. Being the owner makes him an associate in the "expression of sin" as he should be approving the policies of his own station.

ANHRI requests that the Saudi authorities conduct a fair and impartial investigation into this case. Mazen, his friends and the programme editors should not be used as scapegoats to pacify Saudi society, which was so furiously shocked by the show.

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