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Last Updated: Tuesday, 20 July, 2004, 16:22 GMT 17:22 UK
Saudi crackdown on camera phones
Saudi mobile phone user watches sex attack clip
The clip shows the alleged rape in graphic detail
Saudi police have begun confiscating mobile phones with cameras if their owners use them in public, amid scandal about a phone clip of an alleged rape.

Camera phones are already illegal in the kingdom, but until now they have been tolerated by the authorities.

Footage of the alleged rape circulated by phone has caused outrage. Three men have been arrested over the incident.

Two of them, accused of orchestrating the rape, are young men from prominent Saudi families. The third is Nigerian.

A Riyadh hospital told the Arab News newspaper that it had been ordered by the authorities to confiscate any cell phone cameras being used inside the hospital.

People have been buying phones as quickly as possible because they think they are going to be taken from the shops
Abeer Mishkhas
The Ministry of Commerce and other relevant departments are currently devising new measures to stop camera phones being used to invade people's privacy, the Arab News newspaper has reported.

Editor Abeer Mishkhas says that phones are also being confiscated at airports and from guests attending weddings.

"They are concerned that the images will be misused, like publishing them on the internet," she told BBC News Online.

But she says the phones themselves are still widely available in the shops and people have been buying them in greater numbers since the scandal, fearing a crackdown would follow.

"Everybody is talking about it in Saudi Arabia," she said.

Horrific attack

Two Saudis, aged 19 and 23, and the Nigerian, who worked as a driver for one the young men, were arrested early in June after the 19-year-old victim's family lodged a complaint.

An official is quoted as saying the three will receive the strongest punishment if convicted by an Islamic court.

Convicted rapists can be given the death penalty in Saudi Arabia.

Press reports say the phone clip shows the Nigerian man raping the girl, as she pleads for help and screams out the name Birjis.

Investigating authorities are quoted as saying one of the Saudis had fallen out with the girl and he was incited to take revenge by the other one whose advances had been rejected by the same girl.

Beaten Saudi woman speaks out
30 Apr 04  |  Middle East
The camera phone backlash
11 Jun 04  |  Magazine

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