Saudi court condemn four to death for 'Iran spy ring'

Saudi court condemn four to death for 'Iran spy ring'
2 min read
07 June, 2018
Four people have been sentenced to death by a Saudi court for alleged links to the kingdom's arch-rival, Iran.
Saudi Arabia puts scores of people to death each year [AFP-file photo]

Saudi Arabia has sentenced four people to death for links to Iran and an alleged assassination plot of "prominent figures", state media announced on Thursday.

"The criminal court has sentenced four terrorists to death for forming a cell for Iran," the state-owned al-Ekhbariya TV reported. 

"The terrorists were trained in camps in Iran" and "planned to assassinate prominent figures", the news agency added.

Iran and Saudi Arabia have been at loggerheads since the 1979 Islamic Revolution toppled the shah in Tehran.

The revolution led to threats against the Saudi royal family, while Riyadh backed Saddam Hussein during the Iran-Iraq war. 

Tensions have hiked in recent years - particularly under Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman - with the two countries fighting a number of proxy wars in Syria and Yemen.

Saudi Arabia has also accused Iran of promoting militants in its Shia-majority Eastern Province and Bahrain.

Tensions spiked in 2016, when a well-known Saudi Shia cleric, Nimr al-Nimr, was executed by Riyadh after being found guilty of supporting "terrorism".

His death led to attacks on Saudi diplomatic compounds in Shia-majority Iran, leading to Riyadh to cut ties with Tehran.

Later in the year, a Saudi court sentenced 15 people to death for allegedly spying for Iran, according to local media. A source told AFP that most of them were members of the kingdom's Shia minority.

Saudi Arabia has one of the world's highest rates of execution putting around 600 people to death since 2014.

Rights experts have repeatedly raised concerns about the fairness of trials in the kingdom, governed under a strict form of Islamic law, although the Saudi government claims it serves as a deterrent.