Australian jailed on terror charges in Saudi Arabia

SYDNEY (AFP) - An Australian has been jailed for four-and-a-half years in Saudi Arabia on terrorism-related offences, with his lawyer vowing to appeal what he claims was an unfair trial.

Shayden Thorne has been held in a jail outside Riyadh for almost 18 months, reportedly after a laptop, which his family says he borrowed from a mosque, was allegedly found to have terrorist material on it.

His family say the 25-year-old confessed to the crime but only after he was tortured in prison. They claim his confession should not have been considered as evidence.

Saudi lawyer Abdul Jalil Al-Khalidy told Australian media Thorne was convicted in a Jeddah court on Wednesday of five charges regarding supporting and encouraging terrorism.

"I think he is innocent and I will try to appeal," the lawyer was quoted as saying by The Australian newspaper on Thursday, adding that there was little evidence other than his confession.

"If there's any help from the Australian government, it may help to release him."

Thorne's mother, who lives in Perth but did not want to be named, called on the Australian government to lobby the Saudi administration.

"The government should plead the case to the ministry of interior or directly to the king. It needs to be someone with a title ... someone that has some weight behind them," she told reporters.

Foreign Minister Bob Carr said earlier this month that 50 representations had been made to the authorities on behalf of Thorne, who has lived in Saudi Arabia for 12 years.

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