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Amnesty kicks as Netflix pulls episode of show criticising Saudi prince

Amnesty International has criticised Saudi Arabia after Netflix blocked an episode of a comedy show that was critical of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

The second episode of ‘Patriot Act With Hasan Minhaj’ was taken down in Saudi Arabia by the internet streaming service following a complaint by the kingdom’s telecoms regulator that it violated an anti-cybercrime law.

The episode features Minhaj mocking the actions of Saudi officials following the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi and condemning the crown prince’s policies.

Commenting on the take-down, Netflix said: We strongly support artistic freedom and removed this episode only in Saudi Arabia after we had received a valid legal request – and to comply with local law.”

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The contentious episode is however said to be available on YouTube in Saudi Arabia.

“Saudi Arabia’s censorship of Netflix using a cybercrime law comes as no surprise and is further proof of a relentless crackdown on freedom of expression in the Kingdom,” AI said.

“Since Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman came to power in June 2017, many outspoken human rights defenders, activists and critics have been arbitrarily detained or unjustly sentenced to lengthy prison terms simply for exercising their right to freedom of expression.”

The organisation accused Saudi authorities of having “previously used anti-cybercrime laws to silence dissidents creating an environment of fear for those who dare to speak up in Saudi Arabia”.

There has been no official Saudi comment on the move.

Khashoggi, a critic of Prince Mohammed, was killed inside Riyadh’s consulate in Istanbul in October.

Eleven of 21 Saudi nationals arrested in connection with his killing have been indicted.

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