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Update: Saudi King Spares Female Journalist 60 Lashes

Update: Saudi King Spares Female Journalist 60 Lashes

JEDDAH, Saudi Arabia—The Associated Press is reporting that, following intense international publicity, Saudi Kind Abdullah has "waived a flogging sentence on a female journalist charged for involvement in a risque TV show, the second such pardoning of such a high profile case by the monarch in recent years." The AP report is here.

Though details regarding the judge's ruling are currently sketchy, what is not in dispute is the sentence handed down—60 lashes to be inflicted upon a 22-year-old female Saudi journalist for the apparent crime of having had a connection, albeit indirect, to a television show on which a Saudi man spoke openly about meeting and seducing women. The man, who also brought sex toys—which were blurred for viewers—on air with him, will serve 5 years in a Saudi jail and receive 1000 lashes.

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The woman, Rozanna al-Yami, is a former reporter at the Arabic women's magazine Roaa and part-time employee for Bold Red Line, a hit talk show hosted by TV star Malik Maktebi and produced by LBC, a Saudi-owned Lebanese network, where she worked as a guest coordinator.

In July, the program aired an episode that featured Saudi airline employee Mazen Abdul Jawad, a divorced man who spoke frankly about his methods for picking up women for sex. The show prompted about 200 angry calls to the station and quick action by the authorities, who shuttered the network's Saudi Arabia offices and put two of its female employees on trial, including al-Yami.

At trial, the court apparently produced evidence that al-Yami had booked guests for other episodes of Bold Red Line, but could make no direct connection between her and the errant episode. That's because, she says, she had nothing to do with it.

In addition to the flogging, CNN reports that the court "also imposed a two-year travel ban on Rosanna Al-Yami, according to a Saudi Information Ministry official, who could not be named because he is not authorized to speak to the media. The ban prevents her from traveling outside Saudi Arabia."

"[The sentence is] a punishment for all journalists through me," Yami told AFP. "They just said the channel was illegal. But the Saudi minister of information himself appeared on LBC a couple of weeks ago."

According to the Associated Press, the sentence is apparently the first of its kind for a female Saudi journalist, despite the confusion that still remains whether the original charges that al-Yami had been directly involved have been dropped and the lashes ordered "as a deterrent," which is what she told the AP she believes is the case.

"I am too frustrated and upset to appeal the sentence," she said, adding that she has no idea when the punishment will be carried out, and is afraid to appeal it out of fear that she might receive an even harsher sentence.

LBC, which has declined to comment on any of the cases, has decided to stop broadcasting Bold Red Line outside Lebanon, according to www.france24.com.






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Tom Hymes

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