Saudi woman sentenced to 34 years in prison for using Twitter

A Saudi woman studying in the UK returned home for a vacation and was sentenced to 34 years in prison for having an account on Twitter Inc. TWTR’s social media platform, The Guardian reported.

What Happened: Salma al-Shehab, a Ph.D. student at Britain’s Leeds University and a mother of two young children, was booked for allegedly following and retweeting dissidents and activists on Twitter.

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She was initially sentenced to three years in prison by a special terrorist court. Later on Monday, an appeals court issued her with the new sentence, revising it to 34 years in prison and a 34-year travel ban.

The new indictment includes allegations that she “helped people who wanted to cause public unrest and destabilize civil and national security by following their Twitter accounts,” according to a translation of court records, which were seen by The Guardian.

Following this, several human rights organizations, including the Human Rights Foundation, The Freedom Initiative, the European Saudi Organization for Human Rights and ALQST for Human Rights, supported Shehab and condemned the court’s ruling demanding his release.

“We call on the Saudi authorities to release Salma so that she can return to care for the children and complete her studies safely in the UK,” The Freedom Initiative said in a statement.

“Tweeting in solidarity with women’s rights activists is not a crime,” it added.

The sentencing comes weeks after US President Joe Biden met on July 15 with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in Jeddah, which human rights activists say could escalate the kingdom’s crackdown on human rights activists.

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