Wikipedia admin jailed for 32 years after alleged Saudi spy infiltration


Whistleblowers have alleged that the Saudi Arabian government infiltrated the highest ranks of Wikipedia in order to control information about the country, activists reported yesterday. The alleged infiltration resulted in the 2020 arrests in Saudi Arabia of two Wikipedia administrators—Ziyad al-Sofiani (jailed for up to eight years) and Osama Khalid (jailed for up to 32 years)—for “swaying public opinion” and “violating public morals” by posting content “deemed to be critical about the persecution of political activists in the country.” Today, Wikimedia Foundation released a statement to Ars disputing the report, alleging that there was no “infiltration” and that Wikipedia admins have “no ranks.”

These conflicting statements follow an investigation concluded by the Wikimedia Foundation last month that resulted in the banning of 16 users for “conflict of interest editing on Wikipedia projects” in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region. At the time, Wikimedia said, “We were able to confirm that a number of users with close connections with external parties were editing the platform in a coordinated fashion to advance the aim of those parties.”