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  • Writer's pictureDemi Lynch

Saudi Woman Sentenced to 34 Years In Prison For Using Twitter



34-year-old Salma al-Shehab has been sentenced to prison for simply following women's rights activists on Twitter and retweeting their posts.


The PhD university student was visiting her husband and children in Saudi Arabia when police detained her in early 2021.


For 9 months she endured daily questioning before going to trial and was not allowed to hire a lawyer throughout the strenuous investigation stage.


Shehab was initially sentenced to six years in prison, however, the courts have since extended her sentence, claiming she was assisting "those who seek to cause public unrest and destabilise civil and national security."


Salma al-Shehab is first woman to be sentenced for tweeting. Source: NewsTimes

Shehab's did not have a large social media presence and wasn't a leading Saudi activist, yet she has been handed the longest known sentence given to a women’s rights defender in Saudi Arabia.


The Gulf Center for Human Rights (GCDH) has condemned Shehab's sentence, noting activists in Saudi Arabia continue to be subjected to unfair trials, arbitrary sentences and even "severe torture."


"GCHR believes that this ruling, which does not serve justice, is in reality a message of threats and intimidation, sent by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who is in control of the country now, to all Internet activists that this will be the fate of everyone who uses social media," as stated by the GCHR, "expressing in a civilised and peaceful way one’s views that support human rights in the country, and defending the innocent prisoners of opinion who are crowded in prisons, will be heavily punished."


 

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