Netflix Removes ‘Patriot Act’ Episode Upon Request From Saudi Government

Netflix pulled a “Patriot Act With Hasan Minhaj” episode that was critical of Saudi Arabia after the Saudi government said the company violated the country’s cybercrime laws, according to the Financial Times.

“Patriot Act With Hasan Minhaj” features stand-up comedy by Minhaj that incorporates political and social commentary. For his “Saudi Arabia” episode he criticized Saudi Arabia and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s involvement in the killing of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi. Minhaj also encouraged major American companies including Uber and Softbank to stop taking money from the country.

The Saudi government cited Article 6 of its Anti-Cyber Crime Law which prohibits “the production, preparation, transmission, or storage of material impinging on public order, religious values, public morals, and privacy through the information network or computers.” Article 6 also prohibits online human trafficking, gambling, pornographic material and drug trades. 

Journalists in the country have been critical of the law stating that it is used to censor the public. Punishment for  breaking the Anti-Cyber Crime laws includes jail for up to five years and a fine of over half a million dollars.

The Committee to Protect Journalists has tracked some of Saudi Arabia’s issues with freedom of speech since Prince bin Salman’s rule. The organization currently ranks Saudi Arabia as the third most censored country in the world.

“We strongly support artistic freedom worldwide and only removed this episode in Saudi Arabia after we had received a valid legal request — and to comply with local law,” Netflix said in a statement to the Financial Times.

Even though the episode has been pulled from the Netflix platform, according to The FT, it can be still found on the show’s Youtube channel.