Netflix pulls episode of comedy show to satisfy Saudi Arabia ‘legal demand’

Netflix removed an episode of a comedy show criticizing Saudi Arabia, a report says.


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Netflix removed an episode of Patriot Act with Hasan Minhaj from its Saudi Arabia service after the kingdom complained.

The second episode of the comedy show, which was released in October and which remains available on Netflix outside Saudi Arabia and worldwide on YouTube, slammed the Middle Eastern country following the killing of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi in the Saudi consulate in Turkey.

It also criticized Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and the country’s military campaign in Yemen.

The streaming service removed the episode last week after Saudi Arabia’s Communications and Information Technology Commission alleged that it violated an anti-cyber crime law, the Financial Times previously reported.

The move raises fresh questions about the limits of free expression online, but Netflix noted that this was a legal issue.

“We strongly support artistic freedom worldwide and removed this episode only in Saudi Arabia after we had received a valid legal demand from the government — and to comply with local law,” a Netflix spokesperson said in an emailed statement.

The Communications and Information Technology Commission didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

In October, Twitter reportedly suspended a bot network pushing a pro-Saudi Arabia message regarding Khashoggi.

First published at 7:04 a.m. PT.
Updated at 7:45 a.m. PT: Adds Netflix statement and YouTube clip.


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