Saudi King sets aside flogging of journalist over ‘sex life’ TV show

Amnesty International has welcomed the intervention of Saudi Arabia’s head of state, King ‘Abdullah bin ‘Abdul ‘Aziz, to cancel a flogging sentence against a female journalist.

Rosanna Al-Yami was sentenced on Saturday to 60 lashes, in connection with her work on a television programme during which a man spoke about his sex life.
The Jeddah court also imposed a two year travel ban on Rosanna Al-Yami, and ordered her to sign an undertaking not to work for unlicensed media agencies.

She was charged with taking part in the production of the Lebanese Broadcasting Corporation’s programme, Bold Red Line, in July, as well as not cooperating with the investigations, and working for an unlicensed media corporation in Saudi Arabia. According to press reports she was sentenced only for the last charge. Rosanna Al-Yami, 22, is said to have accepted the sentence against her and will not be appealing.

“We welcome the prompt intervention of the King to safeguard Rosanna Al-Yami from flogging”, said Malcolm Smart of Amnesty International “She has been tried and sentenced in connection with carrying out her job as a journalist. We greatly deplore the court’s decision to sentence her to receive a flogging and applaud the King’s speedy intervention to set the sentence aside.”

Another woman journalist was expected to be sentenced today in connection with the production of the same programme, but the King has referred her case along with Rosanna Al-Yami’s to the Ministry of Information. A man involved in the production was sentenced to two months’ imprisonment, but he was released after serving his sentence.

Bold Red Line is reported to have featured four men who were said to have had sexual relationships with women outside marriage. Mazen ‘Abdel Jawad, and three others whose names are unknown to Amnesty International, are reported to have been arrested between 31 July and 5 August.

Mazen ‘Abdel Jawad was sentenced earlier this month to receive 1,000 lashes, a five-year prison term, and a travel ban for five years after serving his sentence. The three other men were sentenced to 300 lashes and two years in prison. They are all said to be appealing their sentences.

Malcolm Smart said: “we urge that all sentences connected to the programme are dropped and that all those sentenced in connection with this case are released immediately and unconditionally unless they are to be charged with a recognisable criminal offence”.