By Asma Alsharif
JEDDAH, Saudi Arabia (Reuters) - Saudi Arabia has revised an anti-terrorism law and made it less severe than a leaked version that was heavily criticised by human rights groups, a Shura Council spokesman said Saturday.
"The draft that was published is not the final one," said Mohammed Almohanna, spokesman for the advisory parliament.
"It was discussed in a Shura Council session. It was a draft and some changes were made to it to ensure that the law is compatible with Sharia (Islamic law) and does not violate citizens' rights or the country's existing laws," he said.
He said the Shura would amend the draft further when its summer recess ends in mid-September before sending it to the king for approval.
Amnesty International, which published a draft of the Penal Law for Terrorism Crimes and Financing Terrorism on its website, said on July 22 that the authorities could use the law to stifle dissent and pro-democracy protests in the absolute monarchy.
Saudi Arabia, a U.S. ally and top world oil exporter, follows an austere version of Sunni Islam. It has no political parties. The appointed Shura Council has only limited powers.
The draft law, in the version published by Amnesty, would consider "endangering... national unity" and "harming the reputation of the state or its position" as terrorist crimes, and would allow suspects to be held incommunicado for an indefinite period, if approved by a special court.
It would also stipulate a minimum 10-year jail sentence for questioning the integrity of the king or crown prince. Continued...
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