Saudi woman gets 45 years in prison for her social media posts, rights group says

Join now for FREE unlimited access to

RIYADH, Aug 30 (Reuters) – A Saudi court has sentenced a woman to 45 years in prison for social media posts, a rights group said, in the latest example of a crackdown on female activists following the visit of US President Joe Biden. to the kingdom.

Nourah bint Saeed al-Qahtani was convicted ‘probably last week’ by Saudi Arabia’s specialized criminal court of ‘using the internet to tear apart the (Saudi) social fabric’ and ‘violation of public order by using social media’ , based in Washington. The DAWN organization said in a statement, citing court documents.

The Saudi government media office did not respond to a request for comment.

Join now for FREE unlimited access to

DAWN said little is known about Qahtani or what her social media posts say, and she continues to investigate her case.

Qahtani’s sentencing came weeks after Salma al-Shehab, a mother-of-two and PhD student at Britain’s University of Leeds, was sentenced to 35 years in prison for following and retweeting dissidents and activists. on Twitter.

The latest cases came after Biden cited human rights concerns, a major sore point in relations between Washington and his traditional ally Riyadh, during his meeting with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in July. .

Washington said last week it had raised “significant concerns” with Saudi Arabia over Shehab’s sentencing, which included a 34-year travel ban for his tweets. Read more

The Qahtani and Shehab cases highlighted a crackdown on dissent led by Prince Mohammed, the de facto Saudi leader, even as he championed reforms such as allowing women to drive and pushing projects to create jobs .

Relatives of Saudi political prisoners initially hoped Biden’s visit would help free loved ones who have been imprisoned amid the crackdown. Read more

Abdullah al-Aoudh, research director for the Gulf region at DAWN, said that in the Shebab and Qahtani cases, Saudi authorities used “abusive” laws to target and punish Saudi citizens for criticizing the government on Twitter.

“But that’s only half the story, because not even the Crown Prince would authorize such vindictive and excessive punishment if he felt that such actions would be met with significant censorship by the United States and other Western governments. Obviously, they are not,” Aoudh said in DAWN’s statement.

Saudi officials say the kingdom has no political prisoners. “We have prisoners in Saudi Arabia who have committed crimes and who have been tried by our courts and found guilty,” Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Adel al-Jubeir told Reuters last month.

“The idea that they would be portrayed as political prisoners is ridiculous,” he added. Read more

Tensions over oil-rich Saudi Arabia’s human rights record have strained its ties with the United States, including over women’s rights and the 2018 murder and dismemberment of journalist Jamal. Khashoggi at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.

Join now for FREE unlimited access to

Reporting by Aziz El Yaakoubi Editing by Mark Heinrich

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

Leave a Comment