RIYADH, Saudi Arabia – A Saudi court on Saturday sentenced a female journalist to 60 lashes after she had been charged with involvement in a TV show in which a Saudi man publicly talked about sex.
Rozanna al-Yami, 22, is believed to be the first Saudi woman journalist to be given such a punishment, but there were conflicting accounts about how the court issued its verdict.
Al-Yami, who worked as a coordinator for the program but has denied working on the sex episode, told the Associated Press it was her understanding that the judge at the court in the western city of Jiddah dropped the charges against her. They included involvement in the preparation of the show and advertising the segment on the Internet.
But she said he still handed down the lashing sentence “as a deterrence.”
“I am too frustrated and upset to appeal the sentence,” said al-Yami.
Sulaiman al-Jumeii, the lawyer for the man who appeared in the TV show, said such “physical punishment is not an indication of innocence or a drop of charges.”
“If the judge had dropped the charges, then why did he give her the 60 lashes?” he added.
In the program, which aired in July on the Lebanese LBC satellite channel, the man, Mazen Abdul-Jawad, appears to describe an active sex life and shows sex toys that were blurred by the station. The same court sentenced Abdul-Jawad earlier this month to five years in jail and 1,000 lashes.
Al-Jumeii maintains his client was duped by the TV station and was unaware in many cases he was being recorded.
The case has scandalized this ultraconservative country where such public talk about sex is taboo and the sexes are strictly segregated.
The government moved swiftly in the wake of the case, shutting down LBC’s two offices in the kingdom and arresting Abdul-Jawad.
Three other men who appeared on the show were also convicted of discussing sex publicly and sentenced to two years imprisonment and 300 lashes each.