The Specialised Criminal Court in the Saudi capital Riyadh sentenced 15 people involved in an Iranian spy cell made up of 32 people to death yesterday. Two other people were acquitted and 15 other defendants were given prison sentences.
These sentences are provisional and are not final- they might be lightened or they may increase in severity. However, the questions here are: Do Iran’s rulers like the Saudi state today? Are they in a state of hostility or open war with Saudi Arabia in the region and the entire world? Does the Iranian plan “consider it shameful” to infringe on the sovereignty of states, recruit agents and establish terrorist networks?
Will the Revolutionary Guards, the leaders of Iranian terrorism, be unable to procure agents to work for them in Saudi Arabia, as they procured their agents in Bahrain, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, Yemen, Sudan, Tunisia, Morocco, and of course, in Syria, Iraq and Lebanon?
What is the penalty for someone who provides serious information to the enemy - and here we mean the Iranian regime - compromises Saudi security and disrupts the armed forces by fishing for sensitive information about them? What is the penalty for a person who provides information to the Revolutionary Guards that he is entrusted with through his work at a bank, government institution or a private one ?
This is explicit betrayal, and the penalty for treason is punishment of various degrees according to specific judicial evaluations. There are requirements that must be met; a fair judicial environment must be provided, the correct procedures must be followed and the defendant must be provided with all the facilities that they are entitled to in order to defend themselves. These are the rights of the defendant and not goodwill gestures.
the presence of Saudi traitors and agents working for the Iranian regime is a specific issue and we must not accuse those linked to these people, for example Shiites, of being traitors.Mshari Al Thaydi
The judicial system in Saudi Arabia gives these rights to defendants accused of being involved with ISIS and Al-Qaeda, and also gives them to defendants implicated in the Iranian regime’s activities. Most defendants work in the military corps and the diplomatic service. The Iranian spy cell consisted of 32 defendants; 30 of them were Saudi, one was Iranian and the other was Afghan. They were sentenced after 10 months of trials and 160 sessions in which around 100 lawyers were involved. In addition to this, the sentences are not final.
The cell was apprehended in 2013 in an operation that was concurrently carried out in four areas of Saudi Arabia: Makkah, Madinah, Riyadh and the Eastern Province.
I want to say that we must be alert about an important issue; the presence of Saudi traitors and agents working for the Iranian regime is a specific issue and we must not accuse those linked to these people, for example Shiites, of being traitors.
The only people who are guilty of being traitors are those who have been sentenced of this crime. Just as there are traitors who are loyal to Al-Qaeda, ISIS and the Muslim Brotherhood at the expense of their countries, there are traitors who are loyal to the Iranian regime in Saudi Arabia.
Traitors will be held accountable but we must be aware of taking revenge and launching a witch hunt.
This article was first published in Asharq al-Awsat on December 7, 2016.
Saudi journalist Mshari Al Thaydi presents Al Arabiya News Channel’s “views on the news” daily show “Maraya.” He has previously held the position of a managing senior editor for Saudi Arabia & Gulf region at pan-Arab newspaper Asharq al-Awsat. Al Thaydi has published several papers on political Islam and social history of Saudi Arabia. He appears as a guest on several radio and television programs to discuss the ideologies of extremist groups and terrorists.