Saudi court jails two over role in 2011 protests

Saudi court jails two over role in 2011 protests
The Specialised Criminal Court in Riyadh has sentenced two citizens to three and four years in prison for attempting to organise mass protests in 2011.
2 min read
03 March, 2017
The two were sentenced to three and four years in prison [Getty]

A Saudi court has sentenced two citizens to prison for attempting to organise mass protests in 2011 inspired by Arab Spring uprisings in Egypt and Tunisia, local media reported on Thursday.

The Specialised Criminal Court in Riyadh found the two unnamed defendants guilty of "heeding the calls of (the) ideologically deviant to cause chaos and participate in demonstrations billed as the 'Hunayn Revolution'" of 11 March 2011, according to al-Watan daily.

The two were sentenced to three and four years in prison and were banned from travelling abroad for four years starting from their release.

The court cleared a third suspect of any charges for lack of evidence, al-Watan reported.

The newspaper gave no details on when the suspects were detained and if they have already completed their sentences.

A clampdown in March 2011 prevented calls circulated on social media for mass gatherings in the capital Riyadh, although some small protests by minority Shia Muslims were dispersed by security forces with gunshots fired in the air.

The late King Abdullah also ordered an aid package worth around $127bn for Saudis in an apparent bid to discourage dissent and insulate the world's top oil exporter from the protests.

Since then, hundreds of people have been arrested and dozens reportedly remain in custody. Specialised Criminal Courts, set up for terrorism cases, have been used to try opposition and human rights activists on various charges including "disobeying the ruler".