Saudi Arabia officials arrested the man who filmed the brutal video of a woman beheaded in public in Mecca. The swordsman murdered Myanmur woman Laila Bint Abdul Muttalib Basim as she screamed her innocence.
Interior Ministry spokesman Maj. Gen. Mansour Turki told The New York Times via text message that “such matters fell under the country’s law against cybercrimes,” confirming the arrest.
VICE News stated in their report of the incident that no one is allowed to film executions. Human rights organizations shared the video on social media, which caused international outrage and massive media coverage. While the spokesman did not specify which part violated the cybercrimes law, it may fall under Article 2 and Article 3 (emphasis added):
This Law aims at combating cyber crimes by identifying such crimes and determining their punishments to ensure the following:
1. Enhancement of information security.
2. Protection of rights pertaining to the legitimate use of computers and information networks.
3. Protection of public Interest, morals, and common values.
4. Protection of national economy.
Any person who commits one of the following cyber crimes shall be subject to imprisonment for a period not exceeding one year and a fine not exceeding live hundred thousand riyals or to either punishment:
1. Spying on, interception or reception of data transmitted through an information network or a computer without legitimate authorization.
2. Unlawful access to computers with the intention to threaten or blackmail any person to compel him to take or refrain from taking an action, be it lawful or unlawful.
3. Unlawful access to a web site, or hacking a web site with the intention to change its design, destroy or modify it, or occupy its URL.
4. Invasion of privacy through the misuse of camera-equipped mobile phones and the like.
5. Defamation and infliction of damage upon others through the use of various information technology devices.
While Saudi Arabia is an ally of the United States, their human rights record has deteriorated in recent years and, due to social media, received more criticism. The kingdom executed nine people two weeks into 2015.
A Saudi court convicted Basim of molesting and murdering her stepdaughter. Basim allegedly beat “her husband’s 7-year-old daughter” and violated “her with a broomstick ‘without mercy or pity, which led to her death.’” As the police dragged her through the streets, she screamed, “I did not kill! I did not kill!” the entire time.
She was killed without painkillers, the more severe of Saudi Arabia’s forms of capital punishment. “One way is to inject the prisoner with painkillers to numb the pain and the other is without the painkiller,” said Mohammed al-Saeedi, a human rights activist. “This woman was beheaded without painkillers – they wanted to make the pain more powerful for her.”
The Saudi Ministry of Interior justified the brutal death. “[The punishment] implements the rulings of God against all those who attack innocents and spill their blood,” the Ministry wrote in a statement. “The government warns all those who are seduced into committing similar crimes that the rightful punishment is their fate.”
The Saudi government, which governs under Sharia law, considers beheading the most human way to kill a person, compared to the other state-sanction methods of execution: stoning, crucifixion, and death by firing squad. The death penalty is applied for horrific crimes like rape, but also for sorcery and adultery.