The Saudi government sent a spy to Wikipedia and detained two editors, Wikipedia expelled all Saudi administrators

by Wikimedia Foundation

The Saudi government has arrested two editors who sent government spies to Wikipedia and created Wikipedia articles critical of the government. In response, the Wikimedia Foundation, which operates Wikipedia, conducted an investigation of the team in charge of Saudi Arabia and dismissed all administrators.

Saudi Arabia: Government Agents Infiltrate Wikipedia, Sentence Independent Wikipedia Administrators to Prison - DAWN

Saudi Arabia jails two Wikipedia staff in 'bid to control content' | Wikipedia | The Guardian

Middle East-based human rights groups Democracy for the Arab World Now (DAWN) and SMEX said on January 5, 2023, 'The Saudi government is the highest-ranking administrator of Wikipedia as a government agent controlling information about the country. to infiltrate Wikipedia, leading to the prosecution of an editor who contributed material information about political detention in Saudi Arabia.”

According to sources familiar with DAWN and SMEX, in September 2020, the Saudi government banned Osama Khalid and Ziyad al-Sofiani, senior administrators of the Saudi Wikipedia, for 'influencing public opinion' and 'public order and morality.' indicted on suspicion of violating In subsequent trials, Khalid was sentenced to five years and al-Sofiani was sentenced to eight years in prison. But the real reason they were arrested was because they had contributed information to Wikipedia that was considered critical of the Saudi government's persecution of political activists, sources said.

A court then extended Khalid's sentence to 32 years in September 2022. DAWN claims this is part of a campaign to punish political detainees and make an example of them.

The Wikimedia Foundation is conducting an internal investigation and expulsion of officials in response to an agent of the Saudi government infiltrating Wikipedia. On December 6, 2022, the Foundation announced, 'In January 2022, the Foundation will launch an investigation into allegations of conflict-of-interest editing on Wikipedia in the MENA region, which will result in a large number of users with close external ties. We were able to confirm that we were cooperating and editing for that organization. Due to the seriousness of this incident, our foundation has placed 16 people in a global ban. '

On the Wikimedia Foundation's global ban list page , you can see that 16 accounts, mostly users with Arabic names, were banned all at once on December 6.

Speaking on the matter, DAWN advocacy director Raid Jarrar said, 'It is despicable but not entirely surprising that the Saudi government has prosecuted a Saudi national who merely posted articles about the government's human rights abuses.' rice field. DAWN executive director Sara Ria Whitson said: 'The Saudi government's use of government agents acting as independent editors to infiltrate Wikipedia and imprison unwelcome editors is a global threat. It shows the risks of spying inside organizations and the dangers of writing independent articles in this country.'

This is not the first time that a Saudi government spy infiltrating an international organization has become an issue. In December 2022, a former Twitter employee was sentenced to three and a half years in prison for leaking user information to the government as a spy for the Saudi government.

A former Twitter employee is sentenced to three and a half years in prison for leaking anti-government user information as a 'Saudi spy' - GIGAZINE

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