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Saudi Arabia hands down sentences against alleged terror elements

THE LEVANT – A Saudi Arabian court on Monday sentenced one man to death and 13 others to prison terms of up to 30 years for their part in a series of attacks against government and foreign targets last decade, state media reported.

The convicted men were part of a group of 50 being tried as a single militant cell and accused of murder and kidnapping, as well as bombing cars, government buildings and foreign residential compounds and plotting to assassinate government officials and attack embassies.

Prison terms for those convicted ranged from four years to 30 years. Sentencing of two others from the 50 was delayed to allow the court to hear more evidence, Saudi Press Agency reported late on Monday. The remaining 34 were acquitted.

Saudi Arabia has detained thousands of its citizens and sentenced hundreds of them after a campaign of bombings and killings from 2003-06 which killed hundreds.

Riyadh’s concerns have grown as the wars in Syria and Iraq have led to what officials describe as a surge in radicalisation among their citizens, and have led some young Saudis to travel overseas to fight.

In February. King Abdullah issued a royal decree imposing prison terms on any Saudi who travels abroad to fight, or who encourages or helps others to do so.

The same decree also demanded jail for those who offer material or moral support for militant groups, which the government later named as including al Qaeda, Islamic State, Nusra Front, the Muslim Brotherhood, Hezbollah and Yemen’s Houthi movement.

Rights activists in Saudi Arabia have complained that the government has also used its security crackdown to target peaceful dissidents, something the authorities deny.

Anger at long periods of detention without trial, allegations of torture and other abuses have led to some protests over the past two years in Riyadh and Bureidah by family members of detainees.

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