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Wikipedia ‘Infiltrated’ By Saudi Arabia, Administrators Jailed: Activists

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Activists claim that Saudi Arabia has “infiltrated” Wikipedia and detained two administrators to restrict material on the website, only weeks after a former Twitter employee was sentenced to prison for “spying” for the country.

The campaigners claimed that one administrator received a 32-year sentence in prison, and another received an eight-year sentence. Two rights groups said that a Wikimedia probe into the Saudi government’s penetration into the region’s upper levels revealed Saudi citizens acting or being coerced into serving as agents.

“Wikimedia’s investigation revealed that the Saudi government had infiltrated the highest ranks in Wikipedia’s team in the region,” Democracy for the Arab World Now (DAWN) and Beirut-based SMEX said in a joint statement.

Following Wikimedia’s announcement of global bans for 16 users “who were engaged in conflict of interest editing on Wikipedia projects in the MENA (Middle East and North Africa) region” last month, DAWN and SMEX released a statement.

In an investigation that started last January, Wikimedia said they “were able to confirm that several users with close connections with external parties were editing the platform in a coordinated fashion to advance the aim of those parties.” Wikimedia was referring to Saudis acting on orders from the Saudi government, claiming DAWN and SMEX, who cited their sources.

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