Saudi court sentences woman to 45 years in prison for social media posts
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A Saudi court has sentenced a woman to 45 years in prison for allegedly damaging the country through her social media activity, according to a court document obtained today.

Little is known about Nourah bint Saeed al-Qahtani, who hails from one of the biggest tribes in Saudi Arabia and has no apparent history of activism.

An official charge sheet seen by human rights groups describes her case as involving her social media use.

The sentence follows international outcry over a similar 34-year prison sentence handed down to Salma al-Shehab, a Saudi doctoral student at Leeds University.

Earlier this month, a specialized criminal court delivered the 45-year sentence under the kingdom’s broad counterterrorism and cybercrime laws.

That court, which normally handles political and national security cases, gave the sentence during Ms Qahtani’s appeal of her earlier conviction.

Judges accused Ms. Qahtani of “disrupting the cohesion of society” and “destabilizing the social fabric,” according to the charge sheet, citing her activity on social media.

It remains unclear what Ms. Qahtani posted online or where her hearing was held. She was taken into custody on July 4 2021, according to the US-based human rights watchdog Democracy for the Arab World Now (Dawn).

“This seems like the beginning of a new wave of sentences and convictions by new judges who have been placed in the specialized criminal court,” said Abdullah Alaoudh, Dawn’s regional director.

The Freedom Initiative, another US-based human rights group, also denounced Ms. Qahtani’s “outrageously long” prison sentence.

“It’s very hard to ignore the fact that we are seeing these sentences as [Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman] has received increased legitimacy in the international realm,” said Allison McManus, the group’s research director.

Meanwhile, the absolute monarchy announced today that it has opened an investigation after videos showed security forces beating women at an orphanage in the city of Khamis Mushait.

In the footage, security officials hold down women in black abayas while uniformed security forces repeatedly lash them with leather belts and wooden sticks.

One man could be seen dragging a woman by her hair across the orphanage lawn as she screamed.


Morning Star
Morning Star

Morning Star is the socialist daily newspaper published in Great Britain. Morning Star es el diario socialista publicado en Gran Bretaña.