Saudi Arabian Woman Sentenced to 34 Years in Prison for Retweets

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Salma al-Shehab was sentenced to 34 years in prison in Saudi Arabia for retweeting activists on her Twitter account and sharing posts advocating women’s right to drive.

After returning to Saudi Arabia for a holiday, the woman, who was a PhD student at Leeds University in the U.K. was arrested and detained.

Initially, Shehab was sentenced to six years in prison, but prosecutors argued for a harsher sentence under Saudi cybercrime and anti-terrorism laws, which resulted in a drastically increased sentence of 34 years.

She has been accused of using social media to “disturb public order and destabilize the security and stability of the state,” The accusations came up because she reshared tweets from Saudi activists in exile calling for the release of political prisoners in the kingdom.

According to the nonprofit Freedom Initiative, which campaigns for the rights of detainees in the Middle East, Shehab’s 34-year sentence on August 8 marks the longest known sentence for a women’s rights activist in Saudi Arabia.

The decision was also criticized by human rights groups around the world and social media users, who continued to express dissatisfaction with the draconian punishment of activists.

The sources for this piece include an article in ZDNet.

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