(Adds second group of men sentenced to prison)
RIYADH Aug 19 A Saudi Arabian court has
sentenced one man to death and 30 others to prison terms of up
to 30 years for their part in a series of militant attacks
against government and foreign targets since 2003, state media
The men were part of a group of 50 being tried as a single
militant cell and accused of murder and kidnapping, as well as
bombing cars, government buildings and foreign residential
compounds and plotting to assassinate government officials and
Fourteen of them were sentenced on Monday, including the man
facing the death penalty, and 13 others given jail terms of four
to 30 years. The other 17 were given prison sentences of two to
25 years in a court session on Tuesday, Saudi Press Agency
Saudi Arabia has detained thousands of its citizens and
sentenced hundreds of them to jail after a campaign of bombings
and killings from 2003-2006 by an al Qaeda group which killed
Riyadh's concerns about domestic militants have grown as the
wars in Syria and Iraq have led to what officials describe as a
surge in radicalisation among their citizens, and have led some
young Saudis to travel overseas to fight.
In February, Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah issued a royal
decree imposing prison terms on any Saudi travelling abroad to
fight, or who encourages or helps others to do so.
The same decree also demanded jail for those who offer
material or moral support to extremist groups, which the
government later named as including al Qaeda, Islamic State,
Nusra Front, the Muslim Brotherhood, Hezbollah and Yemen's
Some prisoners have been held waiting trial for years, but
it is not clear how long the trials lasted. Saudi Arabia set up
a specialised criminal court to handle cases involving militants
and security threats.
Rights activists in Saudi Arabia have complained that the
government has also used its security crackdown to target
peaceful dissidents, something the authorities deny.
Anger at long periods of detention without trial,
allegations of torture and other abuses have led to some
protests by family members of detainees over the past two years
in the capital Riyadh and the city of Bureidah, a traditional
centre of support for Saudi royals.
The government denies any abuses and says it does not
(Reporting by Angus McDowall; Editing by Louise Ireland)