- A Saudi court has sentenced Salma Al-Shehab to 34 years in prison for her Twitter activities.
- The 34-year-old followed the activists’ accounts and posted their posts. This angered the Saudi public prosecutor.
- The human rights organization GCHR wrote that this was the harshest sentence ever against an activist in the country.
Originally, Al-Shehab was sentenced to three years in prison for using a website to “incite public disorder and destabilize civil and national security.” This was reported by the British newspaper The Guardian. The appeals court raised the prison sentence to 34 years. It also issued a travel ban for another 34 years.
The new ruling came as a result of her activity on Twitter. By retweeting and following certain accounts, Al-Shehab supports those who “cause public disturbances and disturb civil and national security” as the prosecution accuses them, according to court documents.
Small access on Twitter
The mother of two and a doctoral student Meteor already lives in Great Britain. During a home visit to Saudi Arabia in January 2021, she was arrested a few days before her scheduled return flight. She belongs to the Shiite minority, which is subject to discrimination and persecution in the Sunni state.
As research by The Guardians shows, the meteor did not emerge as a leadership activist or a particularly vocal activist. The conviction reached relatively few people on Twitter – about 2,500 people followed suit on SMS.
In addition to the daily publications, Al-Shehab has also published calls from exiled Saudi dissidents demanding the release of political prisoners. It also supported the Saudis Feminist Loujain Al-Hathloul.
The human rights organization ESOHR in Berlin and London speaks of an “unprecedented and dangerous” ruling and a possible step in further escalation against activists in the country. They have been subjected to arbitrary sentences in recent years and in some cases have been subjected to severe torture.
Targeting Internet Activists
The Gulf Center for Human Rights described the ruling as “a threatening and intimidating message from Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman,” the kingdom’s de facto ruler, to “all Internet activists.” This is “the fate of all those who use social networks”.
Amnesty International has noted that the human rights situation in Saudi Arabia has worsened since the country relinquished the G20 presidency. The authorities will use the travel ban to intimidate activists and their families. There are currently 39 people in custody due to their activism.
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