Saudi Arabian courts sentenced two men to multiple years in prison for using social media.
On Sunday, one man – unidentified by Saudi authorities – was sentenced to eight years for insulting King Abdullah and “inciting relatives of Saudis arrested for security reasons to protest their imprisonment by tweeting and via posting videos on sites like YouTube,” according to Saudi Arabian state news agency SPA.
After his prison time, the man is banned from social media sites for another eight years and is not allowed to travel from Saudi Arabia. Saudi authorities said that the man has been arrested before on similar offenses and violated a pledge to not use social media again.
His arrest was followed on Monday with another unidentified man receiving a 10-year sentence for using Twitter to organize protests against the Saudi government and using websites that are “hostile to the government and that promote deviant ideologies.” This man was already serving a three-year prison sentence.
CNN suggested that the term “deviant ideologies” is normally used by Saudi officials in relation to al-Qaida groups, though some wonder if the two arrests were made simply to silence political and ideological dissent.
Saudi Arabia recently adopted strict new anti-terrorism laws that have been criticized as nothing more than ways to prosecute and jail anyone critical of the Saudi government. The Muslim Brotherhood was officially named a terrorist organization and atheism was criminalized.