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Amnesty International Website Blocked in Saudi Arabia After Group Posts Draft Anti-Terror Law

BY Nick Judd | Monday, July 25 2011

The Saudi Arabian government may soon learn the answer to a deeply philosophical question: If the draft of a bill is posted to the Internet, but is inaccessible from inside the country where the bill may become law, can anyone read it?

The Associated Press reports that days after Amnesty International began hosting a leaked draft copy of a new anti-terrorism law, it is inaccessible from inside Saudi Arabia:

Amnesty said the draft law, which was reviewed by a government committee in June but has yet to be passed, allows authorities to prosecute peaceful dissent as a terrorist crime.

On Friday, Amnesty posted on its website the full Arabic text of the anti-terrorism draft law along with an internal review of the law by a Saudi government security committee.

The group did not say how it obtained the draft bill, which labels offenses such as harming the reputation of the state and endangering national unity as terrorist crimes.

The AP report places the law in the context of recent uprisings in the Middle East, especially in nearby Bahrain, where Saudi troops are assisting the Sunni rulers there to quell revolt by the Shiite majority.