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Saudi Arabia sentences woman to 34 years for Twitter activism

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A Saudi court has sentenced a woman to 34 years in prison for following and retweeting dissidents and activists against the kingdom.

Salma al-Shehab, 34, a mother of two young children, is a doctoral student at the UK’s Leeds University, who has occasionally posted support for women’s rights in Saudi Arabia.

The sentence was handed down by the kingdom’s special terrorist court, increasing an earlier punishment of six years after fresh charges were raised by prosecutors, the Guardian reported Tuesday.

Those charges included accusations that Shehab was “assisting those who seek to cause public unrest and destabilize civil and national security by following their Twitter accounts” the report said, citing court documents. She was also accused of retweeting posts from those accounts.

Shehab had returned home in December 2020 and planned to bring her family back to the UK with her, but she was called in for questioning and then arrested.

She was held in solitary confinement at times and had wanted to privately tell the judge something about the way she was being treated under arrest that she did not want to say in front of her father, the report said, citing a person who had followed the case. But she was denied communication with the judge.

Shehab was initially sentenced to six years in prison for using an internet website to “cause public unrest and destabilize civil and national security,”........

© The Times of Israel

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