[JURIST] A Saudi Arabian court on Wednesday sentenced 24 individuals to prison for conspiring to attack Saudi Arabia. Of the group, one is an US national and one is Yemeni, and the rest are Saudi. While details of their arrest were not disclosed, the men were charged with creating a terrorist cell and planning attacks on oil pipelines, as well as attacks against Saudi Arabia and Bahrain. The court levied additional charges against various members of the group, including financial terrorism, disobeying the authority of the king, practicing "deviant ideology", and providing shelter to people training for combat. The sentences range [AP report] from two to 27 years of imprisonment. The US national was sentenced to 17 years behind bars and will be deported upon his release. All men have 30 days to appeal the sentence.
In an effort to combat the heightened threat of terrorism, Saudi Arabia recently ratified [JURIST report] new counterterrorism laws, amid heavy criticism [JURIST report] from international rights groups. JURIST Guest Columnist Adam Coogle of Human Rights Watch (HRW) [advocacy website] argued [JURIST op-ed] that Saudi Arabia's new terrorism law is a vague, catch-all document that can—and probably will—be used to prosecute or jail anyone who criticizes the Saudi government and to violate their due process rights along the way. In February Amnesty International (AI) [advocacy website] criticized [JURIST report] the Saudi Arabian counterterrorism law because the law will deepen existing patterns of human rights violations and will be used to crack down on peaceful dissent. In December HRW urged [JURIST report] Abdullah bin Abdulaziz to reject the counterterrorism bill before it became law, arguing that many fundamental human rights would be threatened.