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Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 15 December 2018

Saudi Arabia detains 17 in sweeping crackdown

Eight suspects were temporarily released

Cars drive past the Kingdom Centre Tower in Riyadh which houses the public prosecutor's office. Faisal Al Nasser / REUTERS
Cars drive past the Kingdom Centre Tower in Riyadh which houses the public prosecutor's office. Faisal Al Nasser / REUTERS

The Saudi authorities arrested 17 people for “undermining the security and stability” of the kingdom, the public prosecutor’s office said.

Eight suspects, including five women and three men, were “temporarily” released until the investigation, said a statement carried by the state’s Saudi Press Agency.

It added that the nine other people — five men and four women — were still in custody due to “sufficient evidence against them” and after the confessed to charges, such as suspicious contact with “hostile” organisations and recruiting people in sensitive government positions.

The suspects, whose names were not disclosed, were also accused of providing “financial and moral” support to hostile elements abroad.

Previous reports in state-backed media branded some of the detainees traitors and "agents of embassies". Meanwhile, some campaigners have dismissed the reports as a "smear" campaign.

The government announced two weeks ago that seven people had been arrested for suspicious contacts with foreign entities and offering financial support to "enemies overseas", and said other suspects were being sought. It did not name the detainees.