Saudi lady sentenced to 34 years in jail for utilizing Twitter Saudi Arab

A Saudi scholar on the College of Leeds who returned to the dominion for a vacation has been sentenced to 34 years in jail for having a Twitter account and following and retweeting dissidents and activists.

The sentence by Saudi’s particular terrorist courtroom got here weeks after US President Joe Biden’s go to to Saudi Arabia, which human rights activists warned may immediate the dominion to crack down on dissidents and different pro-democracy activists.

The case can also be the newest instance of how Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman focused Twitter customers in his marketing campaign of repression, in addition to the US social media firm by way of Saudi’s sovereign wealth fund, the Public Funding Fund (PIF). managed a significant oblique stake in ,

Salma al-Shahab, 34, a mom of two younger youngsters, was initially sentenced to 3 years in jail for the “crime” of utilizing an Web web site to “create public unrest and destabilize civil and nationwide safety”. Was. However an appeals courtroom on Monday handed down a brand new sentence – 34 years in jail adopted by a 34-year journey ban – after a public prosecutor requested the courtroom to think about different alleged offences.

In line with a translation of courtroom data seen by the Guardian, the brand new allegations embody allegations that Shehab was “aiding those that search to create public unrest and destabilize civil and nationwide safety by following his Twitter accounts.” are” and again- tweeting them. It’s believed that Shahab should search a recent attraction within the case.

Salma al-Shahab and her household. Picture: ESOHR

By all accounts, Shahab was not a outstanding or significantly vocal Saudi activist, both inside the dominion or within the UK. She described herself on Instagram – the place she had 159 followers – as a dentist, medical instructor, PhD scholar on the College of Leeds and lecturer at Princess Nourah bint Abdulrahman College, and a spouse and mom to their sons, Noah and Adam. within the type of.

His Twitter profile revealed that he has 2,597 followers. Between tweets about Covid burnout and images of his younger youngsters, Shehab sometimes retweeted tweets from Saudi dissidents residing in exile, calling for the discharge of political prisoners within the kingdom. She appeared to assist the case of Louzain al-Hathloul, a outstanding Saudi feminist activist who had beforehand been imprisoned, tortured for supporting driving rights for ladies, and now residing beneath a journey ban. Is.

An individual who knew Shehab mentioned that she couldn’t abdomen the injustice. She was described as properly educated and an avid reader, having come to the UK in 2018 or 2019 to pursue her PhD in Leeds. She returned to Saudi Arabia on trip in December 2020 and intends to deliver her two youngsters and husband again to the UK along with her. He was then known as for questioning by the Saudi authorities and finally arrested and tried for his tweets.

An individual who adopted her case mentioned that Shahab had been stored in solitary confinement a number of occasions and had sought to inform the decide privately about how she was dealt with throughout her trial, which she shared along with her father. Did not wish to inform. The particular person mentioned that he was not allowed to convey the message to the decide. The attraction determination was signed by three judges however the signatures have been invalid.

Twitter declined to touch upon the matter and didn’t reply to particular questions concerning the impression – if any – of Saudi Arabia on the corporate. Twitter beforehand didn’t reply to questions from the Guardian that Badr al-Askar, a senior aide of Prince Mohammed, had been given a verified Twitter deal with with greater than 2 million followers, regardless of the US authorities’s allegations that he had plotted an unlawful infiltration. Why has the account been allowed to be maintained? The corporate that recognized nameless Twitter customers and jailed them by the Saudi authorities. A former Twitter worker has been convicted by a US courtroom on this case.

One in every of Twitter’s largest traders is Saudi billionaire Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, who, by way of his funding firm Kingdom Holdings, owns greater than 5% of Twitter. Whereas Prince Alwaleed nonetheless serves as the corporate’s chairman, his management over the group has confronted questions in US media, together with the Wall Avenue Journal, when it emerged that the Saudi royal – the Crown Prince’s cousin – was held captive. was taken. The Ritz Carlton in Riyadh for 83 days. The incident was a part of a wider purge led by Prince Mohammed towards different members of the royal household and retailers, and included allegations of torture, coercion and seizure of Arab wealth within the Saudi treasury.

In Prince Alwaleed’s 2018 Bloomberg interview, which was held in Riyadh seven weeks after his launch, the billionaire acknowledged that he had reached a “confirmed understanding” with the Saudi authorities, apparently relating to his launch. which was confidential.

Most just lately, Kingdom Holding introduced in Might that it had offered about 17% of its firm to PIF, the place Prince Mohammed serves as chairman, for $1.5bn. In flip, this makes the Saudi authorities a big oblique investor in Twitter. In line with Twitter, traders don’t play a job in managing the day-to-day enterprise of the corporate.

The European Saudi Group for Human Rights condemned Shehab’s sentence, which it mentioned was the longest jail sentence ever confronted by any activist. It mentioned many ladies activists have been subjected to unfair trials, which have led to arbitrary punishment and “extreme torture”, together with sexual assault.

Khalid Aljabari, a Saudi residing in exile and whose sister and brother are being held within the kingdom, mentioned the Shehab case proved Saudi Arabia’s view that dissent equates to terrorism.

“Salma’s harsh sentence in a terrorism courtroom over peaceable tweets is the newest manifestation of MBS’s brutal repression machine,” he mentioned, referring to the crown prince. “precisely like [journalist Jamal] The aim of Khashoggi’s homicide, his sentence is to ship shock waves out and in of the dominion – dare to criticize MBS and you’ll find yourself both ultimately or in a Saudi dungeon.

Though the matter didn’t obtain widespread consideration, the Washington Submit revealed a scathing editorial on Tuesday about Saudi Arabia’s therapy of the Leeds scholar, saying its case exhibits the “dedication” the president has obtained on reforms. It was “a farce”.

“On the very least, Mr Biden should now communicate coercively and demand that Ms Shehab be launched and allowed to return to the UK, to her 4 and 6-year-old sons, and resume their research there.” be performed,” it learn.

Extra reporting by Robin Winter in Leeds

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