Netflix Removes ‘Patriot Act with Hasan Minhaj’ Episode that Criticizes Saudi Government

Netflix

Netflix

Netflix told the FT it removed the episode in Saudi Arabia last week when the country's Communications and Information Technology Commission told the service the act violated Article six of the kingdom's anti-cyber crime law.

Netflix removed an episode of a comedy show that criticized Saudi Arabia after the kingdom requested that it be taken down, according to a new report.

The episode featured Minhaj lampooning the Saudi government's shifting explanations for the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in October.

Comedian Hasan Minhaj dedicated a recent episode of his Netflix show Patriot Act to skewering Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, and the criticism did not go unnoticed by Saudi officials.

This isn't the first time Netflix has removed episodes of a show at the request of a foreign government.

Riyadh has charged 11 people with the murder but strongly denies that the crown prince was involved.

The removal of the episode from its streaming platform in Saudi Arabia was in response to a Saudi statute stating that "production, preparation, transmission, or storage of material impinging on public order, religious values, public morals, and privacy, through the information network or computers" is a crime punishable by five years in prison and a fine of up to $800,000.

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The company said it received a "valid" request which it had to follow to "comply with local law".

The episode focused on America's relationship with Saudi Arabia after the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi previous year.

Last week, it had Netflix remove the episode in that country.

"If they are not doing all these things then they are not following established industry best practice for being accountable and responsible in handling government demands to restrict content", said Rebecca MacKinnon, director of the Ranking Digital Rights project at the New America Foundation, told the Financial Times.

In the episode, Minhaj called Saudi Arabia's actions a "cover-up" and went on to question the deep financial and political ties between the USA and Saudi Arabia, the country's involvement in Yemen and crackdowns on women's rights advocates.

Khashoggi's editor at The Washington Post, Karen Attiah, tweeted that the decision was "quite outrageous".

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