Leeds University student Salma al-Shehab, 34, was detained for having a Twitter account and for following and retweeting activists and dissidents. Shehab, a Saudi national, had come home for a vacation. She has been given a 34-year prison term. The punishment was delivered a few weeks after Joe Biden visited the country, which human rights advocates said would have emboldened the government to intensify its persecution of dissidents and pro-democracy activists.
Shehab, a mother of two, received a three-year prison term at first. She was accused of committing the “crime” of “causing public discontent and destabilising civil and national security” by utilising an online website. But an appeals court changed the sentence to 34 years in prison followed by a 34-year travel restriction after a public prosecutor requested the court to take the other alleged offences into account.
Shehab was accused of “assisting those who attempt to generate public unrest and undermine civil and national security by following their Twitter accounts” and “retweeting their posts,” according to the charges, according to the Guardian. She may still be able to challenge her punishment. Shehab is alleged to have tweeted in support of well-known Saudi feminist activist Loujain al-Hathloul.