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Facebook protests in Saudi Arabia or offensive comments posted on social media in Grenada can land you in trouble

By Randell Suba , Jul 01, 2013 11:25 AM EDT
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Posting on Facebook in countries such as Saudi Arabia and Grenada can get someone in trouble. Opinionated posts on social networks or offensive comments can lead to heavy fines or even worse, jail time.

Seven critics of the government of Saudi Arabia were sentenced by the Specialized Criminal Court of the kingdom to go behind bars since September 2011. The men were sentenced on June 24 following a trial that lasted for two months.

According to an article on International Business Times, the cyber activists were found guilty of violating the Anti-Cyber Crime Law of the KSA that prohibits posting of any material on information networks that may disturb public order.

Saleh bin Abd al-Muhsin bin Ali al-Shaya', Hussein bin Salman bin Yasin al-Sulayman, Mohammed bin Ahmed bin Abd a-Hadi al-Khalifa, Mostafa bin Haji bin Hussein al-Mujahad, Hussein bin Ali bin bin Mohammed al-Bathir, Ali bin Hassan bin Ali al-Hadlaq and Abd al-Hamid bin Abd al-Muhsin bin Abdullah al-Amer received sentences ranging between five and 10 years. All of the convicted men were also banned from traveling.

"Sending people off to years in prison for peaceful Facebook posts sends a strong message that there's no safe way to speak out in Saudi Arabia, even on online social networks, said Joe Stork, Human Rights Watch director in the Middle East in an interview with Arabian Business.

New York-based Human Rights Watch has denounced the conviction of the cyber activists in Saudi Arabia. According to the group, the move of the government is against the principles of international human rights.

HRW appealed to the European Union to condemn the decision of Saudi Arabia, which has jailed the cyber protesters. The EU foreign policy chief is said to meet with the Gulf Cooperation Council to boost cooperation between the two organizations.

"If the EU doesn't raise these cases with Saudi officials this weekend, its silence will look like craven compliance with the rights abuses of an authoritarian state," Stork added.

Meanwhile, people in Grenada have to be careful in what they post on Facebook and other social media sites. Lawmakers of the country have passed a bill that makes social media bullying punishable by law.

According to a report on Time, the Caribbean island passed an electronic crimes law on Friday that imposes penalties for offenses such as identity theft and electronic stalking. The law also has a provision that criminalizes offensive comments on social media networks.

Anyone who finds a Facebook comment, for example, to be offensive can file a report with the police and a judge will decide if the online post is truly offensive. Grenada has set a fine of as much as $37,000 if found guilty or prison time of three years.

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