Saudi ladies’s rights campaigner Salma al-Shehab was sentenced to 34 years in jail on Monday for her exercise on Twitter, in response to court docket paperwork considered by CNN.
Al-Shehab, 33, was additionally banned from touring outdoors of Saudi Arabia for an additional 34 years.
The PhD pupil at Leeds College in the UK had been arrested in January 2021 and was subjected to questioning periods over a interval of 265 days earlier than being delivered to the Specialised Prison Court docket, in response to impartial human rights group ALQST.
She was initially given a six-year sentence late final yr – this was elevated to 34 years after al-Shehab filed an enchantment, in response to the paperwork.
The costs filed in opposition to her by the Public Prosecution included “providing succor 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 rumors on Twitter,” ALQST mentioned.
Al Shehab advised the court docket that with out prior warning, she was “propelled” into the months-long investigation, throughout which she was stored below solitary confinement, in response to the court docket paperwork.
The mom of two additionally requested the court docket to think about the necessity to take care of her youngsters and sick mom, the paperwork mentioned.
ALQST’s Head of Monitoring and Communications Lina Al-Hathloul advised CNN that al-Shehab had been arrested for supporting her sister Loujain al-Hathloul – a distinguished activist who spent greater than 1,000 days in jail following a Might 2018 sweep that focused well-known opponents of the dominion’s since-rescinded regulation barring ladies from driving – and different prisoners of conscience on Twitter.
Lina Al-Hathloul mentioned within the ALQST assertion that al-Shehab’s sentence “makes a mockery of the Saudi authorities’ claims of reform for women and of the legal system,” including that it “shows that they remain hellbent on harshly punishing anyone who expresses their opinions freely.”
They urged that the Saudi authorities launch al-Shehab and demanded that the dominion shield freedom of speech.
Al-Shehab’s Twitter account stays on-line with a pinned tweet that reads: “Freedom for prisoners of conscience and all the oppressed of the world.”
The US State Division mentioned it’s “studying” the case on Wednesday.
“But I can say this is a general matter and I can say this without any caveat and resolutely: exercising freedom of expression to advocate for the rights of women should not be criminalized,” mentioned State Division spokesperson Ned Value at a briefing with reporters.
Requested if Saudi Arabia had been emboldened by current US engagements with the nation, Value responded that “our engagement… has made clear… that human rights is central to our agenda.”