Netflix is the target of criticism today after the streaming service pulled an episode of comedian Hasan Minhaj’s series “Patriot Act” from distribution in Saudi Arabia. The AP reports that the streamer pulled the second episode of the show, released Oct. 28, in which Minhaj criticizes the kingdom’s powerful crown prince.
The story reports that Minhaj used the episode “to lambaste Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman over the killing of writer Jamal Khashoggi and the Saudi-led coalition at war in Yemen.”
The report quotes human rights group Amnesty International saying Saudi Arabia’s censorship of Netflix is “further proof of a relentless crackdown on freedom of expression.” The AP notes that Netflix said it was simply complying with a local law.
“Khashoggi, who wrote critically of the crown prince in columns for the newspaper, was killed and dismembered by Saudi agents inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul last year,” the AP reports. “The U.S. Senate has said it believes the crown prince is responsible for the grisly killing, despite insistence by the kingdom that he had no knowledge of the operation.”
In the episode, Minhaj reportedly said: “The revelations about Khashoggi’s killing have shattered that image and it blows my mind that it took the killing of a Washington Post journalist for everyone to go: ‘Oh I guess he’s not really a reformer.’”
In a statement, Netflix said: “We strongly support artistic freedom worldwide and removed this episode only in Saudi Arabia after we had received a valid legal demand from the government — and to comply with local law.”