Saudi Sentenced to 10 Years in Prison, 2,000 Lashes Over Atheist Tweets

Local media report that 28-year-old man admitted to being atheist but refused to repent for tweets denying existence of God, saying religious teachings fueled hostilities.

Members of the Committee for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice of Saudi Arabia, or religious police, attend a training course in Riyadh, April 29, 2009.

A court in Saudi Arabia has sentenced a man to 10 years in prison and 2,000 lashes for expressing his atheism in hundreds of Twitter posts.

Al-Watan online daily said Saturday that religious police in charge of monitoring social networks found more than 600 tweets denying the existence of God, ridiculing Koranic verses, accusing all prophets of lies and saying their teachings fueled hostilities.

It says the 28-year-old man admitted to being an atheist and refused to repent, saying that what he wrote reflected his own beliefs and that he had the right to express them. The report did not name the man.

The court also fined him 20,000 riyals, about $5,300.