HRW's Kenneth Roth Lambasted for Tweeting 'Fabricated' Photo of Saudi Arabia

03/12/2015 04:02 am ET | Updated May 12, 2015

Human Rights Watch executive director Kenneth Roth came under fire this week after posting a photo on Twitter in what users called a "fabricated" picture of Saudi Arabia.

Roth tweeted the said picture with a reference to an alleged story claiming that a Saudi girl victim of gang rape was given 290 lashes for being without a male guardian and for protesting.

Roth's tweet included a link to a story from a conservative website called Breitbart, which attributed its story to a website called Live Buddhism, whose story has been later removed.

Roth later deleted the tweet.


In his tweet, Mr. Roth provided a link to a story from the conservative website Breitbart, which in turn attributed its story to a website called Live Buddhism, whose story had been deleted.(Courtesy of Twitter)

"It was appropriate to recall this case, which happened several years ago, as we celebrate International Women's Day. The photo in Mr. Roth's tweet came with the article but in retrospect it shouldn't have been used because of the potential for confusion, so Mr. Roth has taken the post down," said Emma Dayl, director of communication at HRW in an email statement to Al Arabiya News.

But users are still questioning how such an important personality, especially one which represents an international human rights advocacy group, could use an inappropriate photo.

Dayl further explained that the image was used for "illustrative" purposes only because there weren't any available images that could relate to Saudi Arabia, however, it still did not explain how Roth tweeted the photo without a disclaimer explaining that the image is not real nor related to the article.

As a reaction to the tweet, Saudi journalist Mamdouh al-Muhaini wrote that even the story which Roth tweeted was "completely fabricated."

Muhaini explained that "the closest story" to it was that of a Saudi girl in 2006, which according to him was widely reported inside the kingdom and ended when late King Abdullah intervened to restore her right and punish the perpetrators.

"Even if he [Mr. Roth] recalled the story from the distant past and considered it a new case, he failed to mention how it ended. So it is right to dismiss it because the events are different, and the picture is also fabricated and has nothing to do with Saudi Arabia," Muhaini wrote.

"Of course we cannot blame everyone writing and tweeting from his bedroom, but these reactions are based on a report shared by a supposedly credible man," he wrote.

*This blog was originally published in Al Arabiya News