Saudi Arabia on Thursday accused online activists of using social media to stir up protests, banned in the kingdom, by distributing “false information” about the number of people detained by the security apparatus.
Concern over the fate of the kingdom’s thousands of security detainees, who the government says are Islamist militants, has prompted demonstrations, culminating in the arrest of 161 people at a protest last week in the central city of Buraidah.
The accusation, delivered during a news conference in Buraidah, underscored the government’s concerns over the impact of reports distributed via social media that many long-term detainees have not been brought to trial, and that police treated women protesters disrespectfully.
On the other hand, many online activists have accused the government of doing the same, that they are spreading lies to discredit activists and label protesters as al-Qaeda sympathizers. MOI’s spokesman said the numbers of detainees repeated by activists are exaggerated, and that the Bureau of Investigation and Prosecution, the Human Rights Commission and the National Society for Human Rights are monitoring Saudi prisons. Activists demand that MOI opens the prisons to independent local and international human rights organizations.