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Saudi authorities detain activists for uploading YouTube videos denouncing corruption

Saudi authorities have detained three activists for posting videos on YouTube denouncing the royal family's corruption and complaining about dismal living standards and low wages.

The decision to arrest the activists was decried by the Arabic Network for Human Rights Information (ANHRI) which pointed out that this case is the first incident to occur in the aftermath of the royal decree issued last February. The decree imposes a long-term prison sentence on those who support or endorse so-called extremist groups, and incite combat outside the country, or for offering material and moral support to such groups.

Abdulaziz Mohammed Al-Dosari and Abdulrahman Al-Asiri, together with another unnamed individual, are facing charges of incitement, sedition and breaching obedience to the king. Besides criticizing corruption, the activists also announced through the videos that they refuse to blame those who belong to extremist groups for the state the country is in. This, in turn, motivated Al Saud's opponents to launch a widely critical campaign on social network sites.

Addressing the Saudi king, Abdulazizi Mohammed Al-Dosari said, “For God's sake, is this enough to meet the expenses of dowry, or a car, or a house?… Then you blame the ones who blow things up."

“The problem is with you, Al-Saud" added Abdulrahman Al-Asiri. "You stole our name and our country you named it after yourself, what right do you have? You stole our Islam. It became Saudi Islam."

Saudi Arabia has in recent years tightened its security and increased its campaigns against political opponents. Since the Arab Spring uprisings, it also stepped up its targeting of activists online.

"The detention of the three activists over an accusation of objecting to the living standards and the corruption of the kingdom, then turning it into a charge of supporting the so-called “extremist groups” appears to be a new tactic in a series of violations committed by the kingdom against those who oppose Al Saud, especially after sparks from the Arab Spring had reached the Saudi throne," said ANHRI.

The network further clarified that the Saudi regime is still insisting on the prosecution of activists and opinion makers on the backdrop of peacefully expressing their opinion. This occurs in light of the shameful silence of the international community, which has economic interests in and relations with the Al Saud family.

ANHRI calls for the immediate release of the three detained activists, and for all charges against them to be dropped. It also calls for the halting of the activists' prosecution and for their safety to be ensured.

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