RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s Public Prosecution said on Monday that spreading rumors or lies about any matter “related to public order” is considered a serious crime in the Kingdom and anyone caught doing so faces arrest and tough penalties.
The authority added that in accordance with the Law on Combating Information Crimes and the Law of Criminal Procedures, this includes individuals who promote or participate in spreading false information in any form on social media, especially fabrications that originate from hostile sources in other countries.
The Public Prosecution said that while monitoring accounts on social-networking sites it had found some that were creating or spreading baseless rumors about a Riyadh Season music event that had been postponed. The false information was coordinated and supported by external, hostile parties who were responsible for most of the posts, the authority added.
It added that individuals in the Kingdom who had participated in spreading the rumors had been “summoned” and criminal charges are being brought against them.
“These actions result in heavy penalties of up to five years imprisonment and a fine of SR3 million ($800,000),” the Public Prosecution said. In addition, devices and tools used to commit such crimes will be confiscated, the final ruling is made public and action can be taken against anyone who incited, assisted or agreed to commit the crime, the authority added.
It urged all citizens and residents to obtain information only from official sources and not to engage with rumors on social media. Those who fail to heed the warning risk facing the maximum penalties prescribed by law, it added.