UPDATE: Saudi Arabia: Justice officials state gang-rape victim has admitted to adultery
It insisted the ruling was legal and that the woman had "confessed to doing what God has forbidden".
The statement carried by the official press agency late on Saturday said the sentence would be carried out in accordance with Saudi law.
The woman was initially to be punished for violating strict gender segregation laws in Saudi Arabia, for riding in the car of a man who was not related to her when they were both attacked.
"The Saudi justice minister expressed his regret about the media reports over the role of the woman in this case which put out false information and wrongly defend her," the statement said.
"The charged girl is a married woman who confessed to having an affair with the man she was caught with."
Adultery is a punishable offence in Saudi Arabia's strict system of Islamic law, and correspondents say judges are given wide powers to impose custodial sentences or corporal punishment.
The justice ministry statement is at odds with previous published testimony of the woman, who is a Shia Muslim from the Qatif area.
She has reportedly said she met the car-owner in order to retrieve a photo of them together, having herself recently got married.
She says two men entered the car and drove them to a secluded area where others were waiting, and both she and her male companion were raped.
Her sentence was increased on appeal after judges wanted to punish her for attempting to use the media to influence the case. Her attackers' sentences - originally up to five years - were also doubled.
The woman's companion was sentenced to 90 lashes.
Several governments and human rights groups have condemned her sentence and urged it to be lifted. Canada described it as "barbaric".
The US, a major Saudi ally, declined to comment specifically on the sentence, but did call the case "astonishing".
26 November 2007
"Saudi Arabia's Foreign Minister has distanced his Government from a court's decision to sentence a rape victim to 200 lashes.
The woman, who was gang-raped, was sentenced to the lashes plus six months in jail for the crime of being alone with an unrelated man at the time of the attack.
Prince Saud al-Faisal says "bad judgements" happen in legal systems.
The court ruling has sparked outrage from international human rights groups."
27 November 2007
Source: ABC News (Australia)
 Canadian imam calls lashing un-Islamic
"Sentencing a rape victim to 200 lashes is a brutal decision made by biased Saudi judges hiding behind Islam, a Calgary Muslim leader said yesterday.
The decision by Saudi Arabian courts to sentence a 19-year-old woman, who was gang raped by seven men, to 200 lashings and six months in jail for cheating on her husband has no base in Islam and only tarnishes that country's already shady human rights record, said Calgary Imam Syed Soharwardy.
"Some of the judges in the Saudi judiciary system are unqualified, self-righteous scholars with very little understanding of Islamic Shari'a," said Soharwardy of Saudi Arabia's alleged Islamic law-based legal system." [...]
27 November 2007
Source: Calgary Sun
 Justice Minister says the woman provoked her rapists
"The young Saudi women condemned to prison and 200 lashes is an adulteress who “provoked the attack” of her rapists because she was “indecently dressed”. That is the conclusion of the Saudi Minister for Justice in an official declaration reported today by the Saudi news agency SPA.
The Minister defends the sentencing and confirms that the national judiciary is based on “the book of God and prophet Muhammad’s teachings”.
Known as “the girl from Qatif”, the nineteen year old Saudi was kidnapped and raped by a group of men, only to find herself condemned by a court to six months in prison and 90 lashings, because she was in a car with a non-relative male, which is forbidden by law. The sentence passed last year had condemned the six rapists to one to five years in prison.
Abdul Rahman al-Lahem countered that the aggressors punishment was too lenient for a crime theoretically punishable with the death sentence, while that of his client too harsh. In appeal, the rapists sentences were increased: now they must spend between two and nine years in prison. But the girl also saw her sentence increase, for having tried to influence the court via media pressure. The same court also removed her lawyer from the case, and suspended his license.
Faced with outraged reactions in western press, as well as neighbouring Arab nations, the lengthy declaration issued by the Justice Minister aims to explain the reasoning behind the verdict. It begins with an expression of “regret” for the “false” and “wrong” reports spread by the press, clarifying that the “woman is married” and that it was she who called the man on her mobile phone “from her husbands house” for a forbidden private meeting. “She got into his car and both headed to the cornice to a dark area where they remained for a period of time”. At this area, they were seen by the rest of the defendants referred to in the case, and she the woman was in an “indecent condition”. The girl “knew that being in privately alone in a meeting with an illegal companion is religiously prohibited”.
She is also being charged with the fact that neither she nor the young man she was with denounced the incident at time, but only three months later, when the young woman’s husband on receiving an e-mail confronted her about the incident and denounced the betrayal."
26 November 2007
Source: Asia News