The London-based Amnesty International asserted that Riyad planned to
crack down on dissent in the Gulf Cooperation Council kingdom under the
guise of CI measures. Amnesty cited a draft law that would sentence to at
least 10 years anybody who questions the integrity of the king or crown
"This draft law poses a serious threat to freedom of expression in the
kingdom in the name of preventing terrorism," Amnesty said on July 22. "If
passed it would pave the way for even the smallest acts of peaceful dissent
to be branded terrorism."
Under the legislation, Saudi Arabia would deem "endangering
national unity" as "terrorist crimes." This would allow Saudi authorities to
extend detentions without charge or trial.
The draft law would also allow authorities to hold dissidents
for an indefinite period upon approval by a special court. The legislation
would grant these options to Saudi Interior Minister Prince Nayef Bin Abdul
Aziz, regarded as the de facto leader of the kingdom.
On July 23, the Saudi embassy in London acknowledged a discussion on a
draft CI bill. The embassy said Amnesty's accusations regarding the bill
were baseless and that the legislation was meant to battle the Al Qaida
"The continued growth of Al Qaida presents us with a serious challenge,
and policies that prevent this group from establishing an affiliated network
in the kingdom are necessary," the Saudi embassy said.