JAFFA, Israel – Three young men have been arrested in southwest Saudi Arabia on suspicion of entering a section of the Jizan regional airport without authorization, allegedly searching for Pokemon Go.
The defendants were accused of jumping over the airport fences and taking pictures without permission.
The arrest came one day after the national media warned Saudi citizens against taking part in the game, saying the app registers and divulges classified information about “sensitive” areas, and may infringe on individual privacy.
Saudi authorities have feared that the app’s loose security settings may pose a threat to the country’s national security at a particularly sensitive time – the Islamic State has said it plans to strike to kingdom, the war against the Houthi rebels in Yemen has spilled over into Saudi territory, and tensions with Iran are high.
These fears were reflected in some of the reactions to the arrest on social media.
“It’s systematic and sophisticated espionage, only that this time it’s called Pokemon,” Haya tweeted.
تجسّس ممنهج وبلاهه متناهية لمن يلعبها سمّوه هالبوكيمون ✨
— هيا الهزاع (@hyyona) July 20, 2016
“Taking pictures on airport premises is a serious matter,” Sami wrote. “What would happen if a bomb hit Jizan airport because the app gave away the location of all the sensitive facilities?”
“The game must be banned,” Mohammed said, “this app has no place in Saudi Arabia.”
“Only a death sentence will act as deterrence against all those committing offenses as a result of this pathetic game,” Abu Turki wrote.
المفروض يوضع عقاب رادع لمرتكبي المخالفات بسبب اللعبة السخيفة هذه
— AbuTurki (@AbuTurkiSubaie) July 19, 2016