The Saudi Arabian government claims to have hacked 9,000 Twitter accounts and shut them down the basis that they were tweeting “pornography”.
The country's Committee for the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice (CPVPV) said it had employed “ethical hackers” to take down Twitter accounts and identify their owners for arrest.
“[CPVPV] members have succeeded in hacking Twitter porno accounts, shutting them and arresting some of their owners over the past period,” a Committee spokesperson told Dubai-based media outlet Emirates 24/7.
The CPVPV, also known as Haia, are religious police who enforce a form of Islamic law in Saudi Arabia, which is a western-backed oil-funded autocracy ruled by a king who enforces Sharia law.
In February last year the religious police force announced they would be cracking down on the use of Twitter to distribute pornography.
A spokesperson for Twitter declined to comment on the claims, but noted that the social network had never received an official content removal request from the Saudi government.
Those found guilty of distributing pornography in the Kingdom face either a prison sentence or a hefty monetary fine.
Last year a spokesperson for the country’s Communications And information Technology Commission dismissed statistics showing Saudis knew how to bypass filters and access pornography online.
He admitted that the country’s government had no idea how many people bypassed filters, however.
“The CITC does not possess statistics through which it can know the percentage of Saudis entering pornographic websites. We cannot judge the credibility of statistics published by external authorities,” the spokesperson told the Saudi Gazette newspaper.Reuse content