RIYADH, Saudi Arabia (AP) - A Saudi court on Saturday sentenced a female journalist to 60 lashes after she had been charged with involvement in a TV show in which a Saudi man publicly talked about
Rozanna al-Yami, 22, is believed to be the first Saudi woman journalist to be given such a punishment, but there were conflicting accounts about how the court issued its verdict.
Al-Yami, who worked as a coordinator for the program but has denied working on the sex-show episode, told The Associated Press it was her understanding that the judge at the court in the western city of Jiddah dropped the charges against her. They included involvement in the preparation of the show and advertising the segment on the Internet.
But she said he still handed down the lashing sentence "as a deterrence."
"I am too frustrated and upset to appeal the sentence," said al-Yami.
Al-Yami refused to provide contact details for her lawyer to ask about the legal proceedings, including the basis in Islamic law for the punishment and whether the charges were really dropped.
Sulaiman al-Jumeii, the lawyer for the man who appeared in the TV show, said such "physical punishment is not an indication of innocence or a drop of charges."
"If the judge had dropped the charges, then why did he give her the 60 lashes?" he added.
Abdul-Rahman al-Hazza, the spokesman of the Ministry of Culture and Information, told the AP he had no details of the sentencing and could not comment on it.
In the program, which aired in July on the Lebanese LBC satellite channel, the man, Mazen Abdul-Jawad appears to describe an active sex life and shows sex toys that were blurred by the station. The same court sentenced Abdul-Jawad earlier this month to five years in jail and 1,000 lashes.
Al-Jumeii maintains his client was duped by the TV station and was unaware in many cases he was being recorded.
On Saturday, he told the AP that not trying al-Yami before a court specialized in media matters at the Ministry of Culture and Information was a violation of Saudi law.
"It is a precedent to try a journalist before a summary court for an issue that concerns the nature of his job," he said.
The case has scandalized this ultraconservative country where such public talk about sex is taboo and the sexes are strictly segregated.
The government moved swiftly in the wake of the case, shutting down LBC's two offices in the kingdom and arresting Abdul-Jawad, who works for the national airline.
Three other men who appeared on the show, "Bold Red Line," were also convicted of discussing sex publicly and sentenced to two years imprisonment and 300 lashes each.
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