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Saudi Arabia 'detains' more preachers
Written by jonathan     September 13, 2017    
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Saudi Arabia has detained more preachers and scholars, activists said, two days after the reported arrest of more than 20 individuals, including prominent Saudi intellectuals. 

The reports come as Saudi state news agency SPA said authortities were uncovering "intelligence activities for the benefit of foreign parties" by an unamed group of people. It did not comment on the reported arrests. 

On Sunday, online activists said up to 20 influential Saudi preachers and religious scholars had been arrested, including some of the kingdom's most influential preachers. 

Activists dedicated to monitoring and documenting what they describe as "prisoners of conscience" reported on social media on Tuesday that at least eight prominent figures, including clerics, academics, television anchors and a poet, had been "confirmed" detained since Monday.

Espionage activities

ALQST, a London-based Saudi rights group, also reported more arrests, including several of the same people, although it gave no specific figure.

"[Salman] Al-Awdah, [Awad] al-Qarni, Farhan al-Malki and Mostafa Hassan [are confirmed]," said Yahya al-Assiri, ALQST head, referring to four of those reported to have been arrested.

"The rest are also correct, but I don't have any specific information," he added.

Saudi officials could not be reached for comment.

A Saudi security source told Reuters news agency the suspects were accused of "espionage activities and having contacts with external entities including the Muslim Brotherhood", which Riyadh has classified as a "terrorist" organisation.

The Doha-based International Union of Muslim Scholars (IUMS) condemned the initial reported arrests late on Monday. 

The group linked them to the Gulf crisis and urged Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz to order their release.

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