Saudi woman sent to 34 yrs jail for sharing dissidents’ tweets

Riyadh: A 34-year-old Saudi woman Salma Al-Shehab has been sentenced to 34 years in prison for using Twitter account— reportedly following activists and opponents, and sharing their tweets.

On January 15, 2021, the authorities arrested Salma Al-Shehab, a PhD student at the University of Leeds in the UK and a mother of two kids, while she was on a vacation in Saudi Arabia. She was targeted because of her social media activism in support of women’s rights and solidarity with activists.

Salma sometimes retweeted the tweets of Saudi dissidents living in exile calling for the release of political detainees in the kingdom. She appears to support Loujain al-Hathloul, a prominent Saudi activist who was imprisoned and allegedly tortured for her support of women’s rights to drive, and is now banned from traveling.

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Salma Al-Shehab was initially sentenced to three years in prison by a special terrorist court.

On Monday, August 15, 2022, the Specialized Criminal Court of Appeal sentenced Salma Al-Shehab to 34 years in prison, followed by a 34-year travel ban, pursuant to various sections of the country’s anti-terrorism and cybercrime laws, reported The Guardian.

As per the media reports, in an appeal, Salma indicated that she had used her real name on social media, had a peaceful background, had published pictures of her children and had a relatively small number of followers.

According to the Freedom Initiative, a Washington-based non-profit organization, this ruling is the longest publicly pronounced sentence against a women’s rights activist in Saudi Arabia.

The European Saudi Organization for Human Rights (ESOHR) noted that the Saudi government in recent years has arrested at least 116 women, 60 of whom are still detained.

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