Saudi Arabia sentences student to 34 years in prison for having a Twitter account and following dissident activists

A Saudi Arabian lady, studying at Leeds University UK, has been sentenced to 34 years in prison for having a Twitter account and following dissident activists.

The 34-year-old woman, Salma al-Shebab, was a PhD student in the UK and returned to Saudi Arabia on a vacation when she was arrested in January 2021.

She was planning to return to the UK in a few days when she was picked up by the Police and accused of using her Twitter account to “cause public unrest and destabilise civil and national security”.

Al-Shebab, who has two young sons aged four and six, had retweeted tweets calling for the release of a lady wrongfully detained in Saudi Arabia.

The tweet reads, “Freedom for Loujain Al-Hathloul … Freedom for all prisoners of conscience. Your freedom is my first wish for this New Year – Happy New Year.”

She would also retweet posts from dissident activists who were living in exile.

She was accused of “providing succour to those seeking to disrupt public order and undermine the safety of the general public and stability of the state, and publishing false and tendentious rumours on Twitter.”

Following her arrest, she was initially sentenced to 6 years in prison but after she appealed her sentence, a Saudi terrorism court increased her jail-term to 34 years on Tuesday, August 18.

Meanwhile, Loujain Al-Hathloul, whom she called for her release via Twitter, was released few weeks after her arrest while she remains behind bars.

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