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News18 » India
2-min read

A Tweet on The Prophet Lands Kerala Youth in Saudi Jail For 10 Years

An external affairs ministry letter said Vishnu Radhakrishnan has been arrested on charges of “cybercrime pertaining to blasphemy and spreading messages against the Kingdom through social media”.

Meera Manu | News18

Updated:January 28, 2019, 8:56 PM IST
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A Tweet on The Prophet Lands Kerala Youth in Saudi Jail For 10 Years
The jail term got doubled in January 24, 2019 after a higher court observed the punishment was not enough

Thiruvananthapuram: A tweet has cost a young Malayali man 10 years of his life.

A resident of Alappuzha in Kerala, Vishnu Dev Radhakrishnan, 28, was slapped a 10-year jail term and penalty of 1,50,000 Saudi Riyal (approx. Rs 28,50,000) on charges of blasphemy and hurting the sentiments of the Saudi kingdom.

His father Radhakrishnan Nair V, a former officer with the Indian Air Force for 21 years, has approached the Indian Embassy in Saudi Arabia, external affairs ministry and Congress’ Thiruvananthapuram MP Shashi Tharoor to help his son's return to India, but to no avail.

Vishnu, who was an engineer with Nasser S Al-Hajri Corporation, a subsidiary of Saudi Aramco, an oil company in the Kingdom, was sentenced to five years in Khobar jail on September 13, 2018.

The jail term got doubled in January 24, 2019 after a higher court observed the punishment was not enough.

The incident leading to his incarceration began from his Twitter interaction with a Muslim woman in London, who he befriended over social media. When the woman made some critical remarks against Indian culture and Hindu gods, Vishnu asked her a few things about the Prophet.

The tweets had supposedly passed through Aramco’s server and they took a screenshot of the same and handed it over to the police.

“His parent company knew it 15 to 20 days prior to his arrest. On assuring that he will be deported to Kerala in a few days, he was kept in their custody. But later, he was arrested. His company could have handed him over to the embassy and avoided this punishment,” Radhakrishnan Nair told News18.

In a letter Vishnu’s parents have received from the consular, passport and visa (CPV) division of the ministry of external affairs, he has been arrested on charges of “cybercrime pertaining to blasphemy and spreading messages against the Kingdom through social media.”

Vishnu had the option to go for an appeal, but he did not.

“He got this piece of information from experts and legal advisers not to go for an appeal, as there are chances of getting the punishment time doubled or extended to more than that. So he told the court that he would obey their rules and preach for the Prophet for the rest of his life,” Nair said.

The hapless father is in constant touch with the Malayali organisation, Navayugam, in Saudi.

Nair is now desperately pinning his hopes on the chances of his son being granted mercy through a clemency petition during Eid al-Fitr.

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