RIYADH: A Saudi court on Tuesday sentenced 15 people to death for spying for the kingdom’s rival Iran, local media and a source close to the case said, in a move likely to heighten regional tensions. The source told AFP that most of the 15 Saudis were members of the kingdom’s Shia minority.
Their trial opened in February, a month after Riyadh cut diplomatic ties with Tehran over the burning of the Saudi embassy and a consulate by Iranian demonstrators protesting the kingdom’s execution of Shia cleric Nimr al Nimr. The most serious charge levelled against them was high treason.
Prosecutors also alleged the accused had divulged defence secrets, tried to commit sabotage, to recruit moles in government departments, to send coded information, and supported ‘riots’ in the eastern district of Qatif, Saudi media reported.
The 15 were among a group of 32 people tried over the espionage allegations, Alriyadh newspaper said.
Published in The Express Tribune, December 7th, 2016.