Hacktivist group Anonymous have taken down many Saudi Arabian government websites in protest over the state's decision to behead and crucify 21-year-old Ali Mohammed al-Nimr. Al-Nimr was arrested when he was 17 over his involvement in alleged anti-government activities.
Campaigners have accused the government of targeting al-Nimr only for being the nephew of a prominent Shi'ite campaigner, Sheikh Nimr Baqr al-Nimr, who was sentenced to death for terrorism offences and "waging war on God". Al-Nimr's final appeal to courts was dismissed earlier in September and his sentence of death by crucifixion can now be carried out at any time.
Anonymous issued a video statement to Saudi Arabia on 22 September saying they would "not stand by and watch" as "innocent" Al-Namr is sentenced to death. The group called on Saudi Arabia to release the Al-Namir, citing reports that he had been denied a lawyer and subjected to torture. According to Reprieve, an anti-death penalty charity, Al-Namir was also forced to sign a confession in 2012, which was then used to sentence him to death 2014.
"Thousands of people die each year because of the Saudi Arabian government and they will now be punished for their actions," warned Anonymous in the video statement. "We do not forgive, we do not forget. Expect us."
However, Anonymous' warning was ignored by Saudi Arabian authorities, sparking them into further action. On Saturday (26 September) night, Anonymous announced that all Saudi Arabian government websites would be going offline.
The announcement was accompanied by another video, addressing the fact that the Saudi government had ignored Anonymous' last video and letter directed at them. They said that the Ministry of Justice website had been taken offline a few days ago and that they would continue to do the same to other government websites.
"Since you have ignored our wishes we will now take action for your ignorance," said the video message. "It was not a good idea to anger us, Saudi Arabian government. We hope you listen to us this time and release the young man. You will be treated as a virus and we are the cure."
The websites appeared to be back online on Sunday (27 September) afternoon, however, the group reported that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs had their website taken down for 8-10 hours the night before. Anonymous told IBTimes that there would be another "huge attack" later in the day.
Campaigners had hoped that Saudi Arabia's King Salman bin Abdulaziz would pardon Al-Namir's death row during the Eid period last week, however, there was no indication of this happening. The Kingdom has executed at least 175 people over the last 12 months, according to a report released by Amnesty International on 25 August.