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MENAFN - Arab News - 04/02/2013

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(MENAFN - Arab News) Novelist and journalist Samar Al-Muqren has won a ruling after filing a complaint against a writer and website owners for online defamation, and is now awaiting the outcome of a second case of cyber bullying.

In the first case, she filed a complaint with the Ministry of Interior against the writer and owners of various websites.

"I was defamed online every day until I reached a point where I didn't care anymore," said Al-Muqren. The article written had slandered her and her family, she added.

She said the Ministry of Interior blocked the two online forums that published the article and summoned the owners of the websites. The writer was sentenced in court.

"Another case took place on Twitter a month and a half ago when someone accused me of being an atheist and another attempted to defame my honor. I filed an official complaint with the Ministry of Culture and Information. I'm waiting for the results."

Although there are no statistics to show the volume of electronic defamation and slander cases in the country, there are a number of confirmed blackmail cases where perpetrators were investigated and tried.

First Lt. Nawaf Al-Bouq, acting spokesman for Jeddah Police, said a special division is responsible for investigating cyber crimes. The division collaborates with King Abdulaziz City for Science and Technology (KACST) if needed, to ensure the crime took place and obtain evidence. He said such cases are dealt with confidentially.

Defamation cases in general are decided upon in court. "Our job is to investigate and search and collect evidence," he said.

Lawyer Hazem Karam said article three of the Cyber Crime Combat Law, issued in 2007, stipulates that those proved to having harmed others through the abuse of cameras and modern technology are punished by a prison term of up to a year and a fine of up to SR500,000.

He said defamatory comments made on Facebook, Twitter and online forums are all punishable under the law.

The victim has to file a complaint with the Ministry of Culture and Information. A committee of the ministry will then probe the matter. The complainant has to attach evidence proving the defamation. Karam said that the committee then refers the case to the Bureau of Investigation and Prosecution (BIP).

If the accused denies committing the crime and if investigators are unable to find the website where the crime was committed, the KACST is then approached for assistance.

After an investigation by the BIP, the case is referred to the Summary Court. In addition to a prison term and fine, a person found guilty of cyber defamation can also be ordered to apologize online and pay the victim compensation determined by the committee or court.

The indictment can also entail blocking the Internet link to the defamatory articles and temporarily or permanently block the website. "However, our values, upbringing, religion and society should prevent such behaviors," Karam added.


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