An engineer from Kerala working with a petroleum company in Saudi Arabia has been sentenced to five years of imprisonment and a fine of around Rs 30 lakhs for his tweets.

With this, Vishnudev, a native of Alleppey in Kerala, has become the first Indian to be punished under Saudi Arabia’s stricter anti-blasphemy laws that came into force two weeks ago.

The new rules promise up to five years of imprisonment and a fine of up to 3 mln riyals (Rs 5.8 cr) for anyone who mocks or insults the religious and moral values of the country.

The law also covers incendiary and subversive posts and messages, and is applicable to both the creation of such messages as well as their distribution or forwarding.

Vishnudev was found guilty of making remarks against the legal system in Saudi Arabia and against the Prophet of Islam in a conversation on Twitter.

Local representatives of Malayali associations tried to intervene in the case after the young engineer was arrested by Dammam Police four months ago.

Dammam Police conducted surveillance on the online activities of the engineer for several days before arresting him.

The Indian Embassy in Saudi Arabia was also seized of the matter at the trial stage.

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