Riyadh court sentences 15 Iran 'spies' to death

Saudi security officers are seen at a site of a terror attack in Jeddah in this July 2016 photo. (AFP file photo)
Updated 08 December 2016

Riyadh court sentences 15 Iran 'spies' to death

JEDDAH: The Saudi Specialized Criminal Court on Tuesday sentenced to death 15 people convicted of spying for Iran.
 
The defendants were found to be members of an Iranian spy cell consisting of 32 terrorists —  30 Saudis, one Iranian and one Afghan.
 
They are charged with forming a spy cell and communicating with the Iranian intelligence with the intention to harm the Kingdom’s security.
 
The 32 defendants in the case known as the “Iranian spy cell,” because of their association with the Iranian intelligence and Revolutionary Guards, are accused of having constituted the cell in collaboration with Iranian intelligence officers and providing the latter with vital, secret information, including sensitive military secrets, which could seriously affect the security, unity and safety of the Kingdom and its armed forces.
 
Some accusations are: Seeking to commit acts of sabotage against vital economic interests and facilities in the country, disturbing peace and public peace, attempting to damage the unity of the community, spreading chaos and sectarianism and carrying out acts hostile to the Kingdom.
 
Other charges include recruitment of Saudi nationals to carry out orders that serve the interests of the Iranian intelligence and to provide it with information vital to the security of Saudi Arabia in return for cash, goods and other advantages.
 
The most serious charges are high treason, committing the crime of spying and collaborating with elements of the Iranian intelligence, providing intelligence about the military and security situation of the country, including the number of aircraft and military bases.
 
The court stressed that the judicial system gives the right to each accused to be defended, give answers and make requests by leaving long periods of time between hearing and deliberation sessions, which numbered over 160.
 
The court also accepted adjourning the hearing sessions for a number of defendants, upon request, for taking their school exams, for example.
 
Each defendant had his own, separate hearing session, to ensure he can present his case in court freely, and each could appoint the lawyer of his choice.
 
In the case of those unable to hire a lawyer, the court designated one at the state’s expense, in accordance with the Criminal Procedures Law.
 
Defendants and lawyers were allowed to meet, at the detention center, to prepare for the cases.
They were also allowed to confer during the court hearings and to decide what goes in the court transcripts, and were provided with copies of the session minutes upon their request.


Easing visa regulations makes Russia big attraction for Saudis

Russia witnessed a 10 percent increase in international tourists in 2018. (AN photo by Huda Bashatah)
Updated 49 min 18 sec ago

Easing visa regulations makes Russia big attraction for Saudis

  • Tourists can visit the country’s regions by simply applying online

MOSCOW: Walking the cobblestone streets around Moscow’s Red Square, tourists from far and wide enjoy the crisp, cool fall air, surrounded by architectural wonders dating back hundreds of years.
Similar to Saudi Arabia, which has begun promoting tourism for the first time, Russia has opened its doors wider to the world by easing visit restrictions, increasing the flow of tourists.
Zarina Doguzova, head of the Federal Agency for Tourism of the Russian Federation, explains to Arab News the dynamics behind it all. “Russia is now very focused on easing visa restrictions and formalities. At the moment, an electronic visa is used for tourists coming to the regions of the Far East, as well as to the Kaliningrad region. And just a very short while ago, an electronic visa regime went live in the territory of St. Petersburg and the Leningrad region,” said Doguzova.
Doguzova stressed to Arab News the importance of working with Saudi Arabia to increase mutual openness and to develop a successful travel industry in both countries.
“Saudi Arabia is on the list of countries whose tourists can visit Russian regions using an electronic visa. We are always happy to see tourists from your country visiting us. Moreover, from Jan. 1, 2021, an electronic visa will work throughout Russia, and we consider it a real breakthrough for global tourism. The same can be said about Saudi Arabia — the things you are doing are a new step in the development of global tourism,” she added.
Doguzova went on to explain that a significant easing of visa restrictions increases incoming tourism by an average of 10-15 percent for a country.
“Tourism is at the intersection of the economy and the country’s image, and that is why its value is even higher. Therefore, we are now developing the concept of Russia’s systematic promotion in international markets in terms of tourism potential.”
Russia is one of the 49 countries on the list recently announced by Saudi Arabia whose citizens will be able to apply for tourist visas to the Kingdom for the first time.
Ahmed Al-Khateeb, president of the Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage (SCTH), announced on Sept. 27, 2019, at an event held in the Kingdom’s capital that international investors agreed to invest SR115 billion ($30 billion) in the tourism sector.
Al-Khateeb and Doguzova met at the 23rd session of the General Assembly of the UN World Tourism Organization held in St. Petersburg in September, the first high-level event hosted by Russia for the UN in the field of tourism.

FASTFACT

14,000 Saudis attended the 2018 FIFA World Cup using FanID, an identification document required by the Russian authorities that provided visa-free entry to Russia for foreigners that purchased tickets to the match.

At 6.6 million sq. miles, Russia is the largest country in the world in terms of landmass and an exotic destination for many. The 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia gave it a serious incentive to develop tourism, with 14,000 Saudis arriving under the FanID visa that was launched before the start of the games. The e-visa system allowed fans to enter Russia visa-free once they had purchased their match tickets.
The number of tourists has soared since then, placing Russia on the global travel map. Russia saw a 10 percent increase in international tourists, with 4.2 million tourists overall in 2018, the state-run Vesti news website reported, citing the Federal Security Service (FSB) border guards.
Doguzova said there are many points of interest for both Saudi Arabia and the Russian Federation to maintain a mutual tourist flow.
With President Vladimir Putin’s state visit to Saudi Arabia, Doguzova hopes that both countries will sign the first framework agreement on tourism.
“For the first time, the Russian Federal Agency for Tourism has drafted such a document and agreed on it with the interested parties. This agreement will create a legal basis for further cooperation in tourism and will contribute to the development of tourism between our countries,” she said.
Doguzova noted that Russia has previously raised the issue of a possible visa-free regime between both countries and will continue to discuss the issue. “We are excited about Saudi Arabia’s efforts to promote tourism. A trend to lift visa restrictions is underway in the world because people want to cross the borders at will in order to travel. Visa liberalization is now taking place all over the world, and both Saudi Arabia and Russia are making significant progress in this field.”
“We want millions of tourists from all over the world, including Saudi Arabia, to discover our country,” she added.