TECH NEWS – Netflix took out from its streaming service an episode of a satirical comedy in Saudi Arabia that criticized the kingdom’s rulers.
It was the second episode of Patriot Act, with US comedian Hasan Minhaj, which was removed due to an official complaint that “it had violated the Saudi anti-cybercrime law”.
Netflix confirmed the removal to the UK’s Financial Times (FT) newspaper.
The official statement said that while it strongly supported artistic freedom it still had to comply with local law.
Despite the removal, people in Saudi Arabia are still able to watch the episode on the show’s YouTube channel.
In the episode which was removed, Minhaj criticizes Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman over the savage assassination of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul in October.
Khashoggi was known to be an outspoken critic of the Saudi royal family and his articles in the Washington Post had been especially critical of the crown prince.
Riyadh has charged 11 people with the murder but strongly denies that the crown prince was involved.
In the said episode, Minhaj also criticizes Saudi involvement in the conflict in Yemen.
Netflix confirmed it had removed the episode last week following a request from the kingdom’s Communications and Information Technology Commission, the FT reported.
The streaming service had to defend its decision by commenting: “We strongly support artistic freedom worldwide and only removed this episode in Saudi Arabia after we had received a valid legal request – and to comply with local law.”
Khashoggi’s editor at The Washington Post, Karen Attiah, wrote in a tweet that the decision was “quite outrageous”.
Khashoggi worked as an adviser to the Saudi royal family until he left more than a year ago amid a severe restriction on press freedom.
Reporters Without Borders, a press freedom watchdog, ranked Saudi Arabia 169th out of 180 countries for press freedom in a list published in October.
Quite outrageous that @netflix has pulled one of his episodes critical of Saudi Arabia.
— Karen Attiah (@KarenAttiah) 2019. január 1.