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Saudis close Lebanese TV offices after 'lewd' content is aired

  • Story Highlights
  • Saudi Arabian officials have shut Lebanese TV office in Riyadh
  • Episode of "A Thick Red Line" has caused uproar in conservative Saudi Arabia
  • Saudi citizen Abdul Jawad who appeared in program currently in police custody
By CNN's Mohammed Jamjoom
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(CNN) -- Saudi Arabian officials have closed a second office of a Lebanese broadcasting network, this one in Riyadh, after the network aired an interview with a Saudi man who bragged about his sex life, authorities said.

Abdul-Rahman al-Hazza, spokesman for the Saudi Ministry of Culture and Information, said the Riyadh office of LBC (Lebanese Broadcasting Corporation) was closed Monday.

"It was shut down because of the program that aired," he told CNN, adding that that was the "main reason."

On Sunday, authorities closed the LBC office in Jeddah.

Al-Hazza said Monday that the Jeddah office did not have a valid operating license, but he said licensing was not the issue in the closure of the Riyadh location. The Jeddah office also violated "media policy in Saudi Arabia," the official said.

He said the length of time the offices would be closed was "open ended." LBC is mainly owned by Saudi Prince al-Waleed bin Talal.

According to al-Hazza, LBC violated the media policy by filming and subsequently airing an episode of its popular show "A Thick Red Line" featuring Mazen Abdul Jawad, a 32-year-old airline employee and divorced father of four who spoke openly about his sexual escapades, his love of sex and losing his virginity at age 14.

Abdul Jawad is also shown in his bedroom, where he holds sexual aids up to the camera. The episode ends with him cruising the streets of Jeddah in his car looking for women.

The episode caused an uproar in deeply conservative Saudi Arabia, where Sharia law, or strict Islamic law, is practiced. Pre-marital sex is illegal, and unrelated men and women are not permitted to mingle.

The segment in question has been posted on the video-sharing site YouTube since its initial broadcast last month, and has been viewed hundreds of thousands of times.

Local media reported Abdul Jawad was arrested a few days after the program aired, and has been detained since last week. Some reports have suggested he could face punishments as severe as flogging or even the death penalty for the alleged crime of publicizing vice.

Suleiman Al-Mutawae, acting spokesman for Jeddah police, told Arab News, an English-language daily newspaper in Saudi Arabia, that speaking about promiscuous acts "is a violation of the Sharia regulations on the one hand and against Saudi customs on the other." All newspapers require government permission to publish in Saudi Arabia.

Before Jawad's detention, Arab News reported that he initiated a damage-control campaign, apologized for his comments and was considering filing a complaint against the show's producers for presenting him "in the worst possible manner by taking two hours of footage and condensing it down to a minutes-long segment."

CNN has been unable to reach Abdul Jawad or his lawyer for comment. LBC has not commented on the situation.

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