RIYADH, Saudi Arabia – Authorities have closed an office of an Arab TV station after it broadcast an interview with a Saudi man speaking frankly about sex and showed off erotic toys, a Saudi official said Sunday.
Abdul-Rahman al-Hazza, the spokesman of the Ministry of Culture and Information, told The Associated Press that the office of LBC, a Lebanese-based satellite TV station, in the western city of Jiddah was closed because of the program and because it is unlicensed.
"The closure is indefinite," al-Hazza said.
The Saudi man, Mazen Abdul-Jawad, has been in detention since last Friday. Abdul-Jawad, a 32-year-old Saudi Airlines employee, has begged forgiveness from Saudi society for appearing on LBC's "Bold Red Line" program, in which he appeared to be talking about his sexual exploits.
His July 15 television appearance shocked many in this conservative kingdom. Saudi Arabia, which is the birthplace of Islam, enforces strict segregation of the sexes. An unrelated couple, for example, can be detained for being alone in the same car or having a cup of coffee in public. Saudis observe such segregation even at home, where they have separate living rooms for male and female guests.
The television segment begins with Abdul-Jawad apparently talking about the first time he had sex — at age 14 with a neighbor. Then the divorced father of four sons leads viewers into his bedroom where he says: "Everything happens in this room."
Sulaiman al-Jumeii, Abdul-Jawad's lawyer, insists the interview was manipulated, his client was not aware in many instances that he was being recorded and the sex toys were provided by the LBC staff.
More than 200 people have filed legal complaints against Mazen Abdul-Jawad, dubbed a "sex braggart" by the media, and many Saudis say he should be severely punished.
In Beirut, LBC's chief Pierre Daher on Sunday maintained his company's no-comment policy since the controversy erupted. He refused to confirm or deny the closure when contacted by AP.
LBC also has a licensed office in Riyadh, according to al-Hazza. He said he has not received word that the Riyadh office has been ordered closed.