The first official Saudi comment on the “knife incident” in Türkiye

The newspaper said:Wall Street Journal“On Thursday, Saudi authorities sentenced a prominent Saudi writer and producer who holds American citizenship to prison and a travel ban after convicting him on terrorism charges.

The newspaper reported that Abdulaziz Al-Muzaini, who was born in Texas and holds American citizenship, revealed last week that a secret Saudi court originally set up to try Al-Qaeda militants sentenced him to 13 years in prison and a 30-year travel ban over tweets he posted more than a decade ago.

Some of the tweets that appeared in court documents and were seen by the newspaper mocked Arab regimes. One of them, published in 2015, said: “No one can save Palestine except God.. Arab countries can barely save themselves.”

In 2014, before the kingdom’s recent social reforms, Al-Muzaini wrote: “You can’t live in Riyadh unless you’re high.”

The newspaper said that court documents show that the Public Prosecution accused Al-Muzaini of trying to destabilize society and sending content online that could harm public order.

“The accused was found guilty of supporting extremist ideas and attempting to destabilize the social fabric and national unity,” the court said in its initial ruling last July, according to documents.

According to the newspaper, the Court of Appeal upheld the decision last April, while the final appeal ruling in the case is still pending.

Al-Muzaini denied the accusations and said the tweets were sarcastic or in line with current Saudi policies, according to the documents.

In turn, the newspaper reported:The New York TimesAl-Muzaini, a father of three, recently described his ordeal in a video in which he appealed to the Saudi leadership to intervene, saying he was awaiting a final ruling from the kingdom’s Supreme Court.

“I may bear the consequences of what happens next, and I am ready,” he said in the 18-minute video, which he said he filmed at his home in the Saudi capital.

Al-Muzaini posted the video on his social media accounts late last month and it was deleted the same day, according to the newspaper.

The Saudi government’s international communications center did not respond to a request for comment, and Al-Muzaini did not respond to a request for an interview, while The New York Times was unable to reach his lawyer.

In turn, the US State Department said in a statement sent to the newspaper that it is following Al-Muzaini’s case, adding: “Our embassies and consulates seek to ensure that American citizens abroad are subject to a fair and transparent legal process.”

Al-Muzaini, 42, co-created the satirical cartoon series “Masameer” in 2010, posting animated videos on YouTube mocking religious hardliners and calling for liberal reforms years before Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman came to power.

He later founded Mirkot and produced a feature film titled “Masameer” that was released in cinemas in 2020 after the kingdom ended a 35-year ban on cinemas.

The newspaper reported that the authorities publicly celebrated Al-Muzaini after the conservative kingdom eased restrictions on the film industry several years ago and considered him one of the local talents shaping the emerging entertainment industry.

His story, she added, is a stark example of Saudi Arabia’s current duplicity, as Prince Mohammed bin Salman leads the kingdom’s social opening while simultaneously increasing politically charged repression.

Since 2022, social media posts have led to the convictions of several Saudis, including two women who were sentenced to 35 and 45 years in prison, and a retired teacher who was sentenced to death.

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