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Rights group criticizes Saudi reporter’s prison sentence

December 22, 2015

RIYADH, Saudi Arabia (AP) — Press freedom group Reporters Without Borders is condemning a prison sentence for a Saudi journalist who called for religious and political reforms in the kingdom, saying it’s “unjust and disproportionate.”

A specialized criminal court established in 2008 to try terrorism cases sentenced Zuhair Kutbi to a four-year prison term, with two years suspended. He was also banned for 15 years from appearing in the media or writing publicly.

He was found guilty Monday of inciting public opinion, fomenting sedition, defaming state institutions and harming the government’s prestige through his writing and social media posts.

Reporters Without Borders said Tuesday that Kutbi has been detained since mid-July following an interview with Saudi-owned Arabic channel Rotana Khaleejia, in which he called for a constitutional monarchy with an elected legislature in Saudi Arabia.

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