RIYADH, Saudi Arabia - A Saudi court on Saturday convicted a female journalist for her involvement in a TV show, in which a Saudi man publicly talked about sex, and sentenced her to 60 lashes.
Rozanna al-Yami is believed to be the first Saudi woman journalist to be given such a punishment. The charges against her included involvement in the preparation of the program and advertising the segment on the Internet.
Abdul-Rahman al-Hazza, the spokesman of the Ministry of Culture and Information, told The Associated Press he had no details of the sentencing and could not comment on it.
In the program, which aired in July on the Lebanese LBC satellite channel, 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.
The man's lawyer, Sulaiman al-Jumeii, maintains his client was duped by the TV station and was unaware in many cases he was being recorded.
On Saturday, he told the AP that not trying his client or al-Yami before a court specialized in media matters at the Ministry of Culture and Information was a violation of Saudi law.
"It is a precedent to try a journalist before a summary court for an issue that concerns the nature of his job," he said.
200 legal complaints
The program, which aired July 15 on LBC and was seen in Saudi Arabia, scandalized this conservative country where such frank talk is rarely heard in public. Some 200 people filed legal complaints against Abdul Jawad, who works for the national airline.
The program, "Bold Red Line," begins with Abdul-Jawad, dubbed a "sex braggart" and "Casanova" by the media, describing the first time he had sex at 14. He then leads viewers into his bedroom, dominated by red accessories, and then shows off blurred sex toys.
He is later joined by three male friends for a discussion on what turns them on. Abdul-Jawad's lawyer maintains his client was referring to other people's sexual experiences and the toys were provided by the TV station.
The government moved swiftly in the wake of the case, shutting down LBC's two offices in the kingdom and arresting Abdul-Jawad, who works for the national airline.
Three other men who appeared on the show, "Bold Red Line," were also convicted of discussing sex publicly and sentenced to two years imprisonment and 300 lashes each.
The kingdom, which is the birthplace of Islam, enforces strict segregation of the sexes. An unrelated couple, for example, can be detained for being alone in the same car or having a cup of coffee in public.
Saudis observe such segregation even at home, where they have separate living rooms for male and female guests.