Saudi Arabia sentences Salma al-Shehab to “unprecedented” 34-year jail time period over tweets, rights teams say

Saudi Arabia has sentenced a girl to 34 years in jail and an extra 34 years underneath a journey ban for sharing her views on Twitter, in accordance with rights teams. Salma Al-Shehab’s jail sentence was longer than any beforehand given to an activist or dissident in Saudi Arabia, male or feminine, and would possibly point out an escalation within the Saudi authorities’s crackdown towards individuals who problem its narrative, the European Saudi Group for Human Rights (ESOHR) mentioned.

“The sentence issued towards Salma Al-Shehab is unprecedented and harmful,” mentioned ESOHR in an announcement. The rights group relies in Europe and depends on contacts throughout the conservative Islamic kingdom, the place journalists should not permitted to work freely.

Salma al-Shehab is proven on this undated picture.


“Lately, many ladies activists have been subjected to unfair trials which have led to arbitrary sentences, along with a few of them being subjected to extreme torture, together with sexual harassment,” ESOHR mentioned.

It is unclear whether or not Al-Shebab, a specialist in dental drugs and lecturer at Princess Nourah bint Abdulrahman College, thought-about herself a political or rights activist. She was learning for a PhD in the UK, in accordance with The Guardian newspaper, when she traveled from town of Leeds again to Saudi Arabia in December 2020 for a trip.

Throughout that go to, she was detained and questioned over a lot of tweets, together with some through which she known as for the discharge of Saudi prisoners of conscience like outstanding ladies’s rights activist Loujain Al-Hathloul. She additionally known as for an finish to Saudi Arabia’s guardianship system, which requires ladies to be overseen by males in the event that they need to do nearly something exterior of their properties.

Earlier than she was in a position to journey again to the U.Okay., she was formally arrested and tried for her tweets, The Guardian mentioned. 

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In response to ESOHR, she was accused of “undermining the safety of society and the steadiness of the state, spreading sedition, offering help to those that search to disrupt public order, and spreading false and malicious rumors on Twitter.”

She was initially sentenced in 2021 to 6 years in jail by Saudi Arabia’s secretive Specialised Prison Court docket, which is devoted to listening to circumstances on terrorism fees. Regardless of all the costs towards her being associated to tweets, an appeals court docket later elevated her sentence to 34 years, invoking “the counterterrorism regime and its financing to justify the tough ruling,” ESOHR mentioned.

“Sentencing Salma underneath the counter-terrorism and financing system confirms that Saudi Arabia offers with those that demand reforms and critics on social networks as terrorists,” ESOHR mentioned.

The tough sentence got here to gentle simply weeks after U.S. President Joe Biden’s go to to Saudi Arabia, which human rights activists and critics warned may embolden the nation’s crackdown on activists and dissidents.

Fiancée of slain journalist Jamal Khashoggi calls Biden’s journey to Saudi Arabia “a betrayal”


“The ruling towards Salma Al-Shehab reveals that the current steps taken by the Saudi authorities within the file of ladies’s rights should not critical and fall throughout the whitewashing campaigns it’s finishing up to enhance its poor human rights document,” ESOHR mentioned. “The Saudi authorities continues to follow its grave violations towards ladies activists with none hesitation.”

One other rights group, the Washington D.C.-based Freedom Initiative, additionally reported the 34-year sentence for Al-Shehab. The group’s Saudi Arabia case supervisor blasted the dominion and its highly effective Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, referred to as MBS, for permitting the tough punishment whereas it has “boasted to the world that they’re enhancing ladies’s rights and creating authorized reform.”

“There isn’t any query with this abhorrent sentence that the state of affairs is just getting worse,” mentioned the group’s Dr. Bethany Al-Haidari in an announcement revealed final week. “It’s sadly no shock that MbS feels extra empowered than ever in presiding over such egregious rights violations. With none actual steps towards accountability, Biden’s journey to Jeddah and the worldwide neighborhood’s embrace should really feel like a inexperienced gentle.”

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