A Saudi woman has been sentenced to 34 years in prison for retweeting a tweet on Twitter. Saudi student Salma Al-Shehab, studying at Leeds University, came home on leave on January 15 last year, during which she was sentenced to 34 years in prison. The woman has been sentenced by the Special Terrorist Court of Saudi Arabia. The woman is alleged to have followed dissidents and activists on Twitter. While running Twitter, the woman retweeted their tweets.
It is one of the longest sentences given to a woman in Saudi Arabia. Salma al-Shehab was initially sentenced to three years in prison by a special terrorist court. The court said Shehab used an internet website to create public unrest and destabilize civilian national security. However, a few days later, an appeals court increased the sentence to 34 years. Salma, 34, is the mother of two children.
Salma retweeted the tweets of Saudi activists living in exile. On Twitter, she appears to support the case of a prominent Saudi female activist, Louzain al-Hathloul. Shehab was then imprisoned and tortured for supporting driving rights for women. Salma is said to have been abused inside the jail and she was not allowed to tell the judges about her misbehavior.
It is believed that Shehab may demand a fresh appeal in the case. Human rights organizations, including the Human Rights Foundation, the Freedom Initiative, the European Saudi Organization for Human Rights, have condemned the court’s decision. These organizations have appealed for Shehab’s release. The case is an example of how Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has targeted Twitter users in his campaign of repression.
Salma Al-Shehab describes herself as a Dental Hygienist, Medical Educator, PAD student on Instagram. He is a lecturer at Princess Noora Bint Abdulrahman University. Shehab has less than 200 followers on Instagram and about 2600 followers on Twitter. The United States Commission on International Religious Freedom stated that Shahab is a Shia Muslim. This is the biggest reason for his long and harsh punishment.