Streaming giant Netflix has taken the unusual step of removing an episode of one of its shows from its platform. The decision was made to pull an episode of political and current affairs satire series Patriot Act with Hasan Minhaj from its service in Saudi Arabia following a legal request from the nation's govenment.
The episode, titled "Saudi Arabia", includes a segment that criticises the country for the murder of Jamal Khashoggi in October 2018 and attempting to cover it up. "They went through so many explanations. The only one they didn't say was that Khashoggi died in a free solo rock-climbing accident," Minhaj says in the episode.
The Patriot Act host, in agreement with US officials, points the finger at Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman for the journalist's killing, saying, "Now would be a good time to reassess our relationship with Saudi Arabia," and proposes that US tech companies sever financial ties.
A spokesperson for Netflix said in an official statement, "We strongly support artistic freedom and removed this episode only in Saudi Arabia after we had received a valid legal request - and to comply with local law."
Netflix confirmed it had been threatened with prosecution under Saudi cybercrime law, which includes the following offence: "production, preparation, transmission, or storage of material impinging on public order, religious values, public morals, and privacy, through the information network or computers."
The episode is still available on Netflix in Australia and remains accessible globally (including in Saudi Arabia) on YouTube.