Saudi journalist sentenced to 60 lashes
From Mohammed Jamjoom, CNN
UPDATED: 03:46 PM EDT 10.24.09
A Saudi court sentenced a female journalist Saturday to 60 lashes for her work on a controversial Arabic-language TV show that aired an episode in which a man bragged about his sex life, two sources told CNN.
The court in Jeddah 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.
This official identified Al-Yami as a fixer, who helps journalists obtain stories, and a coordinator for Lebanese Broadcasting Corp., the network that aired “A Thick Red Line,” a popular show on social taboos.
On one episode, a Saudi man, Mazen Abdul Jawad, bragged about sex and got into trouble with Saudi authorities for his boasts. Abdul Jawad was put on trial and sentenced to five years in prison and 1,000 lashes.
Suleiman Al-Jumeli, the attorney who represents Abdul Jawad, also confirmed the sentence against Al-Yami, saying he believes she is the first Saudi journalist ever to be sentenced to lashes.
While the charges include involvement in preparing the program, she was not involved in setting up the episode in which Abdul Jawad appeared, Al-Jumeli said.
Al-Jumeli doesn’t represent Al-Yami, but he said he is keeping tabs on all aspects of cases dealing with “A Thick Red Line.” The lawyer is attempting to pursue an appeal for his client and get his case heard in a special court that deals only with media matters.
CNN has attempted to get comments from Al-Yami and her attorney.
Abdul Jawad, a 32-year-old airline employee and divorced father of four, spoke openly about his sexual escapades, his love of sex and losing his virginity at age 14 on “A Thick Red Line.”
That episode caused an uproar in deeply conservative Saudi Arabia, where Shariah, or Islamic law, is practiced. Premarital sex is illegal, and unrelated men and women are not permitted to mingle.
Saudi authorities shut down the Lebanese network’s offices in Jeddah and Riyadh after the interview aired a few months ago. Abdul Jawad was arrested shortly after the program aired and charged with violating Saudi Arabia’s crime of publicizing vice.