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Woman jailed 45 years for social media posts

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Saudi woman social media

In the second similar instance this month, a Saudi woman has been given a 45-year prison sentence for her social media posts, according to activists.

Nourah bint Saeed al-Qahtani was found guilty of “violating public order by exploiting social media” and “using the internet to shred the social fabric” by a terrorism court, according to the rights group Dawn.

Other than the fact that she criticised Saudi leaders, little is known about her.

On August 9th, a different lady was sentenced to 34 years in prison over her Twitter posts.

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According to Abdullah Alaoudh, director of research for the Gulf area at Dawn, the US-based organisation first learned about Qahtani’s case only after receiving court records from a judicial source. He said that the organisation was still doing its investigation.

“Nothing in her court documents pertains to any violence or criminal activity,” he said.

“The charges against her are really broad. They are using the counter-terrorism law and the anti-cybercrime law… that can criminalise any posting that is even remotely critical of the government,” he added.

Since last year, a number of more female activists have reportedly been imprisoned because of social media activities. Mr. Alaoudh expressed his concern that they would potentially receive lengthy prison terms.

“The Saudi government is sending a strong signal to the West that it does not care about human rights.”

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The controversial meeting between US President Joe Biden and Crown Prince Mohammed in Jeddah last month and “the escalation in the repressive attacks,” Mr. Alaoudh warned, “make it impossible not to connect the dots.”

Due to its human rights record, Mr. Biden has previously pledged to declare Saudi Arabia a “pariah.”

“As feared, we are witnessing an alarming deterioration of the human rights situation in Saudi Arabia,” it added.

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The Saudi Prisoners of Conscience account also tweeted that it had confirmation of the sentence, but there was no immediate comment from Saudi authorities.

Earlier in August, Salma al-Shehab, a Saudi PhD candidate at Leeds University, was sentenced to 34 years in jail.

The woman was arrested while on holiday in Saudi Arabia in January 2021 and later found guilty of “posting false and tendentious rumours” and “offering succour to individuals aiming to undermine public order.”

Before leaving England, the 34-year-old mother of two had called for changes and the release of well-known intellectuals and activists detained as part of a campaign against dissent led by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

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Prior to the publication of Qahtani’s sentence, Shehab’s prison term was thought to be the longest ever imposed on a peaceful protester in the nation.

 

BBC

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