Netflix pulls episode of comedy show in Saudi Arabia after kingdom's complaint: report

Netflix removed an episode of comedian Hasan Minhaj's show "Patriot Act" in Saudi Arabia after the kingdom complained it violated an anti-cybercrime law, The Financial Times reported Tuesday.

The news outlet reported that Netflix took down an episode of the streaming series that contained criticisms of Saudi Arabia and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman after it received a complaint from the kingdom.

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

The Financial Times reported that Netflix removed the episode from its platform in Saudi Arabia last week after the kingdom's Communications and Information Technology Commission requested that it be taken down because they said it violated an anti-cybercrime law.


The Financial Times reported that human rights advocates have criticized the law as a tool to suppress free speech and government opposition. 

The episode was originally put online on Oct. 28 and is still available to viewers in the United States. 

In the episode, Minhaj details the Saudi involvement in the war in Yemen and the death of Saudi dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi, which spurred international outrage. Minhaj also cast a skeptical light on the crown prince's image as a reformer.

"I am genuinely rooting for change in Saudi Arabia," Minhaj said in the episode. "I am rooting for the people of Saudi Arabia. There are people in Saudi Arabia fighting for true reform, but [the crown prince] is not one of them. And to those who continue to work with him, just know that with every deal you close, you are simply helping entrench an absolute monarch under the guise of progress."

The crown prince has come under renewed scrutiny in the wake of Khashoggi's death. While he has denied involvement, Turkish and U.S. officials have said high-ranking Saudi officials had knowledge of the journalist's murder at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.

The U.S. Senate last month passed a resolution deeming the crown prince "responsible" for Khashoggi's death.

Updated at 4:59 p.m.