Saudi Twitter user sentenced for 34 years of prison for tweeting

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Saudi Twitter user sentenced for 34 years of prison for tweeting

Saudi Women’s Rightscampaigner Salma al-Shehab was sentenced to prison for 34 years on Monday, for her activities on Twitter according to court documents reviewed by CNN.

Al-Shehab 33, was also banned from travelling out from Saudi Arabia for another 34 years.

The PhD student from Leeds University in the United Kingdom was arrested in January 2021 . She was subjected to interrogation for 265 days prior to being taken into the Specialized Criminal Court, according to an independent human rights organization ALQST.

She was initially handed an initial sentence of six years in the in the year. However, this was later increased to 34 years following al-Shehab made an appeal according to the records.

The charges against her by the Public Prosecution included “providing succor for those trying to disrupt public order and compromise the security of the general public as well as the stability of the government, as well as spreading false and threatening rumors via Twitter,” ALQST said.

Al Shehab told the court that, without warning the woman received no warning and was “propelled” in the lengthy investigation. She was held in solitary detention in accordance with court papers.

Two mothers demanded that the court be aware of the need to take care of her children as well as her mother who is sick in the document.

ALQST’s Director of Communications and Monitoring Lina Al-Hathloul said to CNN that Al-Shehab was detained for her support of sister Loujain al-Hathloul, an active activist who was sentenced to more than a thousand days in jail after an April 2018 raid that targeted prominent opponents of kingdom’s law that was later repealed to bar women from driving as well as other prisoners of conscience Twitter.

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Lina Al-Hathloul said in the ALQST statement that the sentence of al-Shehab “makes an mockery of the Saudi authorities who claim to be reforming women and their legal systems,” adding that it “shows that they’re still bent on severly punishing any person who speaks their mind freely.”

They demanded to see their Saudi government release Al-Shehab and called for the kingdom to protect the freedom of expression.

Al-Shehab’s Twitter account is still active with a pin tweet that says: “Freedom for prisoners of conscience as well as all oppressed around the globe.”

The US State Department said it is “studying” the situation on Wednesday.

“But I’m able to say that this is a general issue and I’m able say this without hesitation and without hesitation that exercising the freedom of speech to defend women’s rights must not be punished,” said State Department spokesperson Ned Price at a briefing with journalists.

When asked if Saudi Arabia had been emboldened by recent US engagements with the country, Price responded that “our engagement… has clearly stated… it is clear that the protection of human rights are at the heart of our mission.”

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