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Saudi Arabia executes two soldiers convicted of 'treason'

Saudi Arabia has one of the highest execution rates in the world.

Saudi Arabia executed two Ministry of Defense personnel on Thursday for treason, though the details of the case are unknown.

The ministry said that Lt. Col. Majid bin Musa Awad al-Bali and Staff Sgt. Yusuf bin Rida Hassan al-Azuni were executed for “treason and failing to protect the national interest and the honor of military service.” The two were arrested and sentenced to death back in 2017, the ministry said in a statement carried by the official Saudi Press Agency.

The agency did not provide details on what the two men were accused of. Reuters noted that the kingdom as heavily engaged in the war in Yemen at the time, fighting the Iran-backed Houthi forces. Saudi Arabia also executed three soldiers in 2021 for treason and “cooperating with the enemy,” according to the outlet.

Why it matters: Saudi Arabia’s legal system and use of the death penalty have been widely criticized. In July, Saudi citizen Muhammad al-Ghamdi was sentenced to death for criticizing the Saudi royal family on Twitter. Human Rights Watch researcher Joey Shea called the decision a “terrifying new stage” in an August release from the New York-based organization.

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