Saudi Arabia puts 30 on trial for spying

Riyadh—Saudi Arabia has put 32 people on trial, including 30 members of its own Shia Muslim minority, accused of spying for Iran, several local newspapers and television channels reported on Monday.
The 32, including an Iranian and an Afghan, were detained in 2013 sparking expressions of concern among Saudi Shias who said that several were well known figures in their community and not involved in politics.
The trial is the first in recent memory for Saudis accused of spying and may stoke tensions between local Shia and Sunni Muslims and with Iran, which strongly denied the accusations at the time.
The bitter rivalry between the Saudi kingdom and Iran, has aggravated wars and political struggles in Syria, Iraq, Lebanon, Yemen and Bahrain and is regarded by many analysts as a cause of regional instability.
Tensions escalated further in January when Riyadh broke off diplomatic ties following the storming of its Tehran embassy by protesters angered at Saudi Arabia’s execution of a Shia cleric convicted of involvement in the killing of policemen.
Riyadh’s Bureau of Public Prosecution presented the charges against the 32 on Sunday at the Specialised Criminal Court, which tries security offences, the Saudi-owned al-Arabiya channel reported. The charges included establishing a spy ring with members of Iranian intelligence and passing them sensitive military information, seeking to sabotage Saudi economic interests, undermining community cohesion and inciting sectarian strife.
They also included supporting protests in the Shia-majority region of Qatif in Eastern Province, recruiting others for espionage, sending encrypted reports to Iranian intelligence via email and committing high treason against the king.—Reuters

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