London, Asharq Al-Awsat – The following is a statement issued by the Saudi Press Agency on 23/7/2011 in response to Amnesty International’s claims that an anti-terrorism law under consideration in Saudi Arabia will be used to suppress dissent:
The embassy of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in the United Kingdom issued today a statement regarding the Amnesty attack on a draft Saudi Law to assist Saudi Security Forces in tackling terrorist activity.
The statement said: “A draft law to assist Saudi Security forces in tackling terrorist activity currently under discussion by the Majlis Al-Shura (The Consultative Council) in Saudi Arabia has been attacked by Amnesty International.
Without contacting the Royal Embassy of Saudi Arabia for clarification or comment, Amnesty International determined that this law could be used to suppress dissent within the Kingdom, and on this basis circulated its interpretation to journalists. Only after a journalist contacted the embassy did we find out about their accusations.
The Royal Embassy of Saudi Arabia would like to point out that Amnesty International’s concerns about this law are baseless, mere supposition on their part, and completely without foundation.
However the Kingdom would also like to point out that it is determined to continue to tackle the threat of terrorism in Saudi Arabia. Since 1995, the Kingdom has been struggling with domestic terrorism, only recently eradicating [the] Al-Qaeda cells that took root in the country. Before that time, a multitude of terrorist acts occurred, killing scores of people and sowing fear. Today, due to the efforts of the Saudi Security Services, those cells have largely been eradicated. However, regional unrest provides a breeding ground for new threats. The continued growth of Al-Qaeda presents us with a serious challenge, and policies that prevent this group from establishing an affiliated network in the Kingdom are necessary.
“Amnesty International’s suggestion that this draft law would be used to suppress dissent, rather than against terrorists, is wrong” said Saudi Ambassador to the United Kingdom, Prince Mohammed Ibn Nawaf Ibn Abdulaziz.
We are deeply concerned that while alleging, without foundation, that we might act without integrity, Amnesty International has not behaved ethically towards us as it did not contact us about their concerns regarding this draft law.
This is not the first time Amnesty has failed to contact us about accusations regarding the Kingdom. This latest incident adds to our concern that there is a campaign by Amnesty [International] and other individuals and organizations to malign Saudi Arabia in the media merely with the aim of damaging the reputation of the Kingdom.
To that end, we are writing to the Secretary General of Amnesty International.