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Saudi woman given 34-year prison sentence for using Twitter

11:30, Thursday, 18 August, 2022
Saudi woman given 34-year prison sentence for using Twitter

A Saudi student at Leeds University who had returned home to the kingdom for a holiday has been sentenced to 34 years in prison for having a Twitter account and for following and retweeting dissidents and activists.

The sentencing by Saudi’s special terrorist court was handed down weeks after the US president Joe Biden’s visit to Saudi Arabia, which human rights activists had warned could embolden the kingdom to escalate its crackdown on dissidents and other pro-democracy activists.

The case also marks the latest example of how the crown prince Mohammed bin Salman has targeted Twitter users in his campaign of repression, while simultaneously controlling a major indirect stake in the US social media company through Saudi’s sovereign wealth fund, the Public Investment Fund (PIF).

Salma al-Shehab, 34, a mother of two young children, was initially sentenced to serve three years in prison for the “crime” of using an internet website to “cause public unrest and destabilise civil and national security”. But an appeals court on Monday handed down the new sentence – 34 years in prison followed by a 34-year travel ban – after a public prosecutor asked the court to consider other alleged crimes.

Saudi woman given 34-year prison sentence for using Twitter
Saudi woman given 34-year prison sentence for using Twitter
Saudi woman given 34-year prison sentence for using Twitter

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