Salma al-Shebab, a 34-year-old Saudi student at Leeds University, was sentenced to 34 years in prison for using a Twitter account, following and retweeting dissident activists.
The mother of two was detained in Saudi Arabia in January 2021, just as she was about to return to the United Kingdom, where she was a PhD student at the University of Leeds.
According to the Daily Mail, she was accused of using Twitter to ’cause public unrest and undermine civil and national security’ after posting tweets advocating for women’s rights in Saudi Arabia.
Al-Shebab, who has two young sons aged four and six, was originally sentenced to six years in prison, but a Saudi terrorism court increased her sentence to 34 years on Monday after the activist appealed.
She is also said to face a 34-year travel ban when her prison sentence expires.
The court cited Al-social Shebab’s media activity, in which she tweeted in support of Saudi women’s rights and expressed solidarity with imprisoned women’s rights activists such as Loujain al-Hathloul, calling for their release.
Al-Shebab was arrested after retweeting a tweet from Al-sister Hathloul’s Lina that said, ‘Freedom for Loujain Al-Hathloul…’ All political prisoners must be released. My first wish for this New Year is for your freedom – Happy New Year!’
She was charged with ‘providing aid to those seeking to disrupt public order and undermine public safety and state stability, as well as publishing false and tendentious rumours on Twitter.’
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