Posted at 01:29 PM ET, 07/25/2011

Saudi Arabia blocks Amnesty International Web site after anti-terror law leak


An image of the blocked Amnesty International Web site.
The Saudi Arabian government has long blocked access to thousands of Web sites that cover topics such as religion, women, health, drugs, sex and pop culture.

But today, the Saudi government took online censoring a step further by blocking access to the Web site of human rights organization Amnesty International.

The move came after Amnesty International criticized a leaked copy of a draft of an anti-terror law proposed by the Saudi government that would stifle peaceful protest in the kingdom.

In its analysis, Amnesty International condemned the law saying it posed a “serious threat to freedom of expression in the Kingdom in the name of preventing terrorism.”

If passed, the law would label offenses such as harming the reputation of the state and endangering national unity as terrorist crimes. These crimes would also carry harsh punishments, including a minimum prison sentence of 10 years for challenging the integrity of the king.

Amnesty International wasn’t the only one up in arms over the law.

Saudi Lawyer Fahad AlMalki responded to the law sarcastically on Twitter, writing: “Q: Define: I'm fed up. A: I cannot. I could be imprisoned. I can only say it should mean: I’m utterly happy.

Saudi Blogger Fouad Al-Farhan compared the Anti-Terror law to George Orwell’s novel 1984, writing: “2011 is our 1984 #Saudi #SaudiTerrorLaw.”

The government responded to Amnesty International’s report as “baseless,” “mere supposition,” and “completely without foundation,” before taking the human rights Web site offline altogether.

The censorship of Amnesty International’s site is the latest move by Saudi Arabia to prevent the pro-democracy protests rocking much of the Middle East from spilling over into its kingdom.

By  |  01:29 PM ET, 07/25/2011

 
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