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Freed Saudi Arabian terror suspects 'were not innocent'

5,831 were not released after being found innocent, but had been found guilty mostly of 'minor violations of laws'.

RIYADH // Of the 11,527 people arrested in connection with Saudi Arabia's counter-terrorism campaign against al Qa'eda over the past eight years, 5,831 were released after serving short sentences following their convictions on minor, non-violent violations, a spokesman for the Ministry of Interior said today.

General Mansour al Turki said the 5,831 were not released after being found innocent, as previously reported, but had been found guilty mostly of "minor violations of laws".

"'Innocent' means they didn't go through prosecution," said General al Turki. "But they did go through the courts. Some were sentenced to months, some to years."

However, he added, none were "found to be involved in any criminal activity which resulted in a death or injury to anyone. They made a mistake, but the mistake did not require them to go for a long period in prison."

General al Turki said they were brought to trial before the special court in Riyadh for terrorism-related crimes was established.

Asked if this meant that none of the 11,527 arrested since 2003 in the government's battle against al Qa'eda were found innocent, or wrongly detained, Gen al Turki said that the 11,527 did not include those arrested but released within days after authorities determined they were wrongly detained.

* The National

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