A Saudi student from the University of Leeds, returned home for a holiday, was sentenced to 34 years in prison for having a Twitter account and for following and retweeting dissidents and activists.
The Saudi Special Tribunal for Terrorists ruling was handed down weeks after US President Joe Biden’s visit to Saudi Arabia and also marks the latest example of how Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman targeted Twitter users in the its crackdown campaign, while simultaneously controlling a major indirect stake in the US social media company through the Saudi sovereign wealth fund, the Public Investment Fund (PIF).
Salma al-Shehab, 34, a mother of two small children, was initially sentenced to three years in prison for the “crime” of using a website to “provoke public unrest and destabilize civil and national security”.
But on Monday an appeals court issued the new sentence – 34 years in prison followed by 34 years of travel ban – after a prosecutor asked the court to consider other alleged crimes.
According to a translation of the court proceedings, which was viewed by the Guardian, shehab allegedly “helped those seeking to cause public unrest and destabilize civil and national security by following their Twitter accounts” and retweeting their tweets under the new allegations.