Abb Takk News

Saudi court sentences 15 men to death for spying for Iran

A Saudi court has sentenced 15 people to death for spying for Iran, Saudi media reported.

The court ruling is set to further exacerbate tension between the two regional rivals.

The Specialised Criminal Court in Riyadh sentenced 15 other suspects to prison terms ranging from six months to 25 years, and acquitted two, al-Riyadh newspaper said on its website.

The suspects, comprising 30 Saudi Shi’ite Muslims, one Iranian and an Afghan, were detained in 2013 on charges of spying for Iran and went on trial in February. The rulings are subject to appeal, and death sentences must go to the king for ratification.

The trial is the first in recent memory in which Saudi citizens have been accused of spying. It comes at a time of high tension between Saudi Arabia, the regional Sunni powerhouse, and Iran, a non-Arab Shi’ite theocracy, over influence in the Middle East.

In January, Saudi Arabia executed a prominent Shi’ite cleric convicted of involvement in the killing of policemen, prompting protesters to storm the Saudi embassy in Tehran. Riyadh then broke off diplomatic ties.