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Amnesty says website blocked in Saudi Arabia

July 26, 2011 12:45 A.M. (Updated: July 26, 2011 12:45 A.M.)
LONDON (AFP) -- Rights group Amnesty International said on Monday that its website has been blocked in Saudi Arabia after the group criticized a draft Saudi anti-terrorism law.

"Access to Amnesty International's website has been blocked in Saudi Arabia ... following the organization's criticism of a draft anti-terror law that would stifle peaceful protest in the kingdom," it said in a statement.

Amnesty had on Friday called on Saudi King Abdullah to make changes to the law, criticizing provisions of a leaked copy of the law it said it had obtained.

Amnesty said that under the Draft Penal Law for Terrorism Crimes and Financing Terrorism, the authorities could detain people "potentially indefinitely" without charge or trial.

The legislation would also give the authorities power to imprison for at least 10 years anybody who questions the integrity of King Abdullah or Crown Prince Sultan bin Abdul Aziz, it said.

"Instead of attacking those raising concerns and attempting to block debate, the Saudi Arabian government should amend the draft law to ensure that it does not muzzle dissent and deny basic rights," Malcolm Smart, Amnesty's Middle East and north Africa director, said in Monday's statement.

While Saudi Arabia has not seen protests on the same scale as some other countries in the Middle East, activists have held demonstrations calling for reforms and the release of prisoners, especially in the kingdom's east, where most of its minority Shiite population lives.

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