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Saudi PhD student sentenced to 34 years in prison for retweeting opponents

Saudi PhD student sentenced to 34 years in prison for retweeting opponents
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  • A Saudi PhD student has been sentenced to 34 years in prison for following and retweeting dissidents.
  • He was accused of aiding and abetting those who sought to harm national security by following them guardian.
  • Rights groups say it is the longest sentence for an activist and could signal a bigger crackdown.

A PhD student in Saudi Arabia has been sentenced to 34 years in prison for following and retweeting dissidents and activists on Twitter. The Guardian reported thisCiting translated court documents.

Salma Al-Shehab, 34, was studying at the University of Leeds in the UK and was home in Saudi Arabia on holiday in December 2020 when she was questioned, arrested and put on trial by authorities. The Guardian reported this.

Al-Shehab, who is married with two children, was initially sentenced to three years in prison “for using a website to cause public unrest and destabilize civil and national security,” The Guardian reported.

But an appeals court on Monday sentenced him to more time for the Twitter accounts he followed and retweeted, reports said.

He was sentenced to a total of 34 years in prison followed by a 34-year travel ban, The Guardian reported.

The Washington Post Also sentencing reports, as did not European Saudi Human Rights Organization and US-based non-profits Independence initiative.

Translated court documents seen by The Guardian said al-Shehab was accused of “supporting those who follow their Twitter accounts to cause public unrest and destabilize civil and national security.”

According to The Guardian, he retweeted Saudi dissidents who called for the release of political prisoners held in Saudi Arabia. The Post reported that he also advocated for the right of women to drive, a policy that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman allowed in 2018, although activists were Still impressed.

The Guardian noted that while al-Shehab did not have a large online following – she had about 2,500 followers – and was not known as an activist, many of her tweets were about her children.

He may be able to appeal, The Guardian reported.

Twitter declined to comment to The Guardian on Al-Shehab’s case. The government of Saudi Arabia has significant investments in Twitter, The Guardian noted.

Both the European Saudi Organization for Human Rights and Freedom Initiative said al-Shehab’s sentence was the longest prison term ever handed down to an activist and could signal a further crackdown on dissent.

Human rights organizations say Saudi Arabia often arrested Those who disagreed with the government—sometimes years after they publicly criticized it.

This included the arrest of dozens of people when Mohammed bin Salman, also known as MBS, became crown prince in 2017. Since then he was considered as the de facto ruler of the state.

Sources close to the royal family said two senior Saudis were arrested in 2020 for not supporting him told the Associated Press At times there are also MBS Many high-profile political figures have been imprisoned whom he sees as a threat to his hold on power.

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