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- Saudi Arabia has handed the death penalty to four men accused of training in Iranian terror “camps” who planned to assassinate “prominent figures.”
- State media said the men traveled to Iran and trained with Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.
- The ruling came just a day after the UN published a report which found Saudi Arabia uses its strict anti-terror and national security laws to crackdown on dissent.
- Saudi Arabia has one of the highest rates of executions in the world, rights groups have claimed, and the number of executions have doubled under Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman.
Saudi Arabia has given the death penalty to four men accused of training in Iranian terror “camps” and planning to assassinate “prominent figures.”
The ruling was handed down on Thursday, state-owned Al-Ekhbariya TV reported, adding that the men were part of a “terrorist cell” which traveled to Iran and trained with Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.
The men also planned to assassinate “prominent figures” and form terror units in Saudi Arabia, according to details from the trial included in the report.
The ruling came a day after the UN published a report which found Saudi Arabia uses its strict anti-terror and national security laws to crackdown on political dissidents. The report claimed that citizens who peacefully expressed their views were “systematically persecuted” in Saudi Arabia.
“Many languish in prison for years. Others have been executed after blatant miscarriages of justice,” the report added.
But the report also explained that Saudi Arabia has suffered high numbers of terror attacks in the past and has faced increased outcry from minority groups, contributing to fears of reprisal and the government’s heightened anti-terror measures.
The Sunni-Muslim majority nation has one of the highest rates of executions in the world, rights groups have claimed. The number of executions have doubled under Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman, who has pledged to crackdown on terror and rid the country of extremism.
UK rights group Reprieve said there were 133 executions in Saudi Arabia in the eight months following the appointment of Prince Mohammed, compared to 67 in the eight months prior. According to their March report, 18 young men faced facing imminent execution under the Kingdom’s broad “anti-terrorism” laws, eight of them children at the time of their alleged offences.
Even prior to the Crown Prince crackdown, Saudi Arabia had been criticized for its large number of executions. In January 2016, the country killed 47 people in one day, including a prominent Shia cleric named Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr who the government accused of working on behalf of Iran.
Iran and Saudi Arabia have been feuding for decades, both locked in a fierce battle for hegemony. They’ve both been heavily involved in regional conflicts, including the current escalation in Yemen’s civil war which has pinned Saudi-backed forces against Iran-backed Houthi militia fighters.