Saudi Arabia

Saudi Producer Sentenced To 13 Years In Prison Over Animated Netflix Series

Via Middle East Eye

Saudi writer and producer Abdul Aziz al-Muzaini has been sentenced to 13 years in prison and 13 years of travel ban, on charges of promoting terrorism and homosexuality through his Netflix show and old tweets.

In a video posted on YouTube and X (formerly Twitter) addressed to Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman, al-Muzaini said that a committee in Saudi Arabia’s audiovisual commission brought up to 30 charges against him in connection with his popular animated series Masameer in 2021, shortly after it premiered on Netflix.

Al-Muzaini says he was questioned by Saad al-Suhaimi, the chairman of the committee, who first questioned his choice of partnering with Netflix instead of working with MBC, a Saudi network.

Al-Muzaini told his interrogator that he had already spoken to Israa Osseiri, head of the General Authority for Audio-visual Media, to make sure his show does not violate any laws. This prompted al-Suhaimi to message Osseiri, ordering her to stay away from the case.

According to a Royal Court letter released during the time of late Saudi King Abdullah, al-Suhaimi’s committee enjoys independence from the general audio-visual authorities.

Al-Muzaini says his interrogator told him “not to think that this is it, that there is entertainment now, there is the Riyadh season,” alluding to the recent developments in the Saudi entertainment industry and the loosening of restrictions. “It seems he has found, through me, a person he can exert his authority over,” al-Muzaini said in the video.

Sources contacted the Saudi government and Netflix for comment. The accusations brought against al-Muzaini include the use of language in his series, where sentences such as “may God curse you” and “you donkey” amounted to a crime.

The final and most serious charge accuses al-Muzaini and his company, Myrcott, of supporting terrorism and homosexuality through their series Masameer. According to al-Muzaini, his accusers interpreted the first episode of his show, which mocks Islamic State, as an implicit endorsement of the group.

Al-Suhaimi then brought forward a series of tweets made by al-Muzaini between 2010 and 2014 which were used to bring other charges against him.

Saudi Arabia’s Public Prosecution service had initially requested a 25-year imprisonment followed by a 25-year travel ban, which were reduced to 13 years each by the country’s Terrorism Court last month.

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Middle East Eye

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