A Saudi Arabian student was sentenced to 34 years in prison for following and retweeting activists on Twitter . Salma Al-Shehab , 34 , was studying at the University of Leeds and went to Saudi Arabia for vacation in December 2020. A few days before his return to the UK in January 2021, the doctoral student was detained.
Saudi Arabia’s special terrorism tribunal convicted him of “disturbing public opinion and destabilizing civil and national security”. The student used his Twitter account, which has around 2,700 followers, to follow, like and share posts from Saudi activists or dissidents in exile.
“I reject injustice and support the oppressed,” he tweeted in 2019 . had written. The mother of two young children was initially sentenced to six years in prison, but prosecutors wanted her to face new charges, including “spreading false and malicious rumors on Twitter.”
Decision Said To Set A Dangerous Precedent In The Country
An appeals court on Monday awarded a 34-year travel ban in addition to a 34-year sentence after his release. Al-Shebab comes from the Shiite Muslim minority in Saudi Arabia, which has long suffered discrimination . His 34-year sentence was widely condemned by activists and politicians .
The Human Rights Center described the decision as “a mockery of justice” and “a message of threat and intimidation from Crown Prince Mohammed Bin-Salman”. The European Saudi Human Rights Organization said the decision set a “dangerous” precedent for women activists in the country, as they said they had faced “unprecedented arrest warrants”, “severe torture” and sexual harassment .
The 34-year sentence is the longest ever given to an activist in Saudi Arabia, according to human rights organizations. The case is also the latest example of how the Saudi regime targeted Twitter users in its repression campaign.