Saudi Arabia to Execute 15 People over Alleged Spying for Iran

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The Specialized Criminal Court in Riyadh has sentenced at least 15 people to death, accusing them of leaking details on the Saudi military and national security to Iran.

Saudi Arabia to Execute 15 People over Alleged Spying for Iran

Members of Magic Movement, a group of young Bangladeshis, stage a mock execution scene in protest of Saudi Arabia beheading of eight Bangladeshi workers in front of National Museum in Dhaka October 15, 2011 (Photo: Reuters / Andrew Biraj)

At least 15 people have been sentenced to death by the Specialized Criminal Court in Riyadh, all of them are accused of leaking details on the Saudi military and national security to Iran, Saudi state media reported.

Reportedly, the convicted worked in the diplomatic, economic, academic and military fields and were members of an ‘Iranian spy cell’, which included at least 32 people: one Iranian, one Afghan and 30 Saudis, all of whom were arrested in 2013. Two of the convicted were acquitted, 15 others got prison sentences ranging from six months to 25 years, and 15 of the ‘luckiest spies’ were sentenced to the death penalty.

According to the Saudi state media, the men are accused not only of sending of secret information on the national security and the Saudi Armed Forces to Tehran and collaborating with agents from Iranian intelligence, but also of attempts to recruit people “working in state agencies to commit acts of espionage for the Iranian intelligence service.” Allegedly, some of the suspects hacked into computers in order to obtain the data concerning external and internal security of Saudi Arabia, while other even met Iran’s Supreme leader Ali Khamenei.

Some were also accused of supporting demonstrations in the Shiite-dominated Qatif governorate in the eastern Province of Saudi Arabia. As a source close to the case told the AFP news agency, the majority of the convicts were members of the Shiite minority.

According to Adam Coogle, Human Rights Watch’s researcher for the Middle East, the trial was “flawed from the beginning.” Coogle noted that offences of the alleged spies, such as “supporting demonstrations,” trying to “spread the Shia confession,” and “harming the reputation of the kingdom,” do not look like recognizable crimes. “Criminal trials should not be merely legal ‘window-dressing’ where the verdict has been decided beforehand,” he told AFP.

According to Amnesty International, in 2015, Saudi Arabia carried out at least 158 death sentences and took the third place in the number of executions among all countries of the world, after Iran and Pakistan. In October of this year, AFP reported that at least 134 people, including prominent Shiite cleric Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr, had been executed in the kingdom.

However, numerous executions did not prevent Saudi Arabia to be successfully re-elected as one of the representatives of the Asian region for the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) for the next three years at the end of October.

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