A Saudi newspaper reported that an Egyptian man has been sentenced to six years in prison on charges of attempting to disturb public order, violating the kingdom’s labor laws and communicating with a sorcerer to bewitch his employer.
The Egyptian, who was unnamed in the Okaz report, was accused of acquiring a secret military document that listed the movements and names of Saudi troops and of emailing this document to the Iranian Embassy in Lebanon.
Saudi Arabia and Iran are regional rivals. The kingdom has long-accused Iran of meddling in its affairs and trying to destabilize the region.
Okaz reported Tuesday that the Specialized Criminal Court in Riyadh sentenced the Egyptian national on Monday. He has the right to appeal. Few details were given about the sorcery charges.
The Saudi regime enforces a strict form of Islam based on a literal interpretation of the Quran that vehemently opposes folk ritual and what it sees as sorcery.
The kingdom operates a Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice within the powerful religious police. The commission runs courses on theoretical and practical aspects of countering sorcery and the black arts, the practice of which is often punishable by death.
Three years ago, the Atlantic magazine quoted Sheikh Adel Faqih, a director of the anti-witchcraft division, as providing a “vague and innocuous” reply when asked what kind of information was needed to arrest a sorcery suspect.
The unit had formed nine bureaus for fighting witchcraft by 2011, and in 2012 alone charged 215 magicians, the report said.
Earlier this year, the Saudi Gazette reported the arrest of a man who allegedly presented himself as a sorcerer to trick people into investing in fake businesses. Police reportedly found fake potions, herbs and ropes used to dupe people into believing that he was a magician.