Saudi Arabian teen arrested for online videos with American blogger

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A teenager known online as Abu Sin is in custody after engaging in ‘unethical behaviour’ in live-streaming videos with California personality Christina Crockett

A male Saudi Arabian teenager has been arrested in Riyadh over a series of online videos of conversations between him and a female Californian streaming-video star that went viral.

A Riyadh police spokesperson, Colonel Fawaz Al-Mayman, said the teenager, known online as Abu Sin, was arrested on Sunday for engaging in “unethical behaviour” in videos with Christina Crockett, a popular broadcaster on the conversational live-streaming site YouNow. Abu Sin’s real name is not known.

“His videos received many comments and many of the commenters of the general public demanded for him to be punished for his actions,” Al-Maymann added, according to the Saudi Gazette.

The two amassed thousands of fans on the YouNow network, and later on YouTube after videos of the two speaking were uploaded there. The videos featured Abu Sin – a nickname given to him for his broken teeth – and Crockett communicating despite their significant language barriers.

The popularity of the videos of the two of them surprised Crockett, she told the Guardian in an interview. As a broadcaster on YouNow, she can invite her fans to join her broadcasts on split-screen, which is known as “guesting”.

“I guested this kid – I don’t know what he’s saying because I don’t speak Arabic, [but] everyone thought he was really funny, and everyone liked him, and I guess this video went viral,” she said.

“He didn’t speak much English, so I was trying to get him to understand what I was saying most of the time; it wasn’t that good communication,” Crockett said. “He was dancing and being funny, we would both dance on there because we can’t communicate with words. It was pretty funny.”

The two were not in a relationship – Crockett points out in one recent video that she has a boyfriend – but their unlikely interactions captured the imaginations of thousands of viewers. Advertisement<br>Their conversations are moving perhaps because of their banality; the two struggle to overcome cultural and language barriers to discuss topics like Justin Bieber.

A police spokesperson said Abu Sin is 19 years old, despite looking much younger. Crockett is 21. “The two of them composed enticing videos which received thousands of followers and viewers from all over the world within a short period of time,” Riyadh police spokesperson Colonel Fawaz Al-Mayman told the Saudi Gazette.

Mayman said they began tracking Abu Sin after several commenters on YouNow called for his arrest for inappropriate behaviour. A lawyer told Okaz – the Arabic-language sister-paper to the Saudi Gazette – that he now faces up to three years in prison.

“I think it’s terrible and I don’t think he deserves it,” Crockett said. The experience, she said, had been “pretty upsetting.”

Crockett said she had received some abuse on the site from people blaming her for what happened. “They say, I hate you for what you did, why you talking to him, this is your fault that he went to jail, all that stuff. I don’t see it as my fault, I talk to everyone in my guest queue.”

Those kind of comments are a minority, though, she added. “I just block them and move on.”

Abu Sin’s arrest was captured on a live stream on YouNow while he was conversing with another user. The video was later uploaded to YouTube and shows Abu Sin in a car with two friends when they are approached by police.

The two friends return to the car and tell the camera that Abu Sin has an arrest warrant, before the video cuts out abruptly.

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