In the second similar instance this month, a Saudi woman has been given a 45-year prison sentence for her social media posts, according to activists.
Nourah bint Saeed al-Qahtani was found guilty of “violating public order by exploiting social media” and “using the internet to shred the social fabric” by a terrorism court, according to the rights group Dawn.
Other than the fact that she criticized Saudi leaders, little is known about her.
On August 9th, a different lady was sentenced to 34 years in prison for her use of Twitter.
According to Abdullah Alaoudh, director of research for the Gulf area at Dawn, the organization only became aware of Qahtani’s case after receiving court records from a judicial source, and it is still conducting research.
Nothing about violence or illegal conduct is mentioned in her court records, he claimed.
The accusations made against her are rather broad. They are making use of the anti-cybercrime and counter-terrorism laws, which have the power to make any posting that is even tangentially critical of the government illegal, the speaker said.
Since last year, a number of more female activists have reportedly been imprisoned because of social media activities. Mr. Alaoudh expressed his concern that they would potentially receive lengthy prison terms.
“The Saudi administration is strongly informing the West that it does not respect human rights.”
The controversial meeting between US President Joe Biden and Crown Prince Mohammed in Jeddah last month and “the escalation in the repressive attacks,” Mr. Alaoudh warned, “make it impossible not to link the dots.”
Due to its human rights record, Mr. Biden had previously vowed to declare Saudi Arabia a “pariah.”
A rights organization headquartered in the UK named ALQST also expressed extreme worry with Qahtani’s punishment, which it claimed was “based on [her] tweets.”
We are seeing an alarming worsening of the human rights situation in Saudi Arabia, as expected, it continued.
There was no immediate response from Saudi authorities, but the Saudi Prisoners of Conscience account tweeted that it had received confirmation of the punishment.
Salma al-Shehab, a Saudi PhD candidate at Leeds University, was sentenced to 34 years in prison earlier in August.
She was detained while traveling in Saudi Arabia in January 2021 and later found guilty of “posting false and tendentious rumors” and “offering succor to individuals aiming to undermine public order.”
The 34-year-old mother of two had demanded reforms and the release of well-known activists and intellectuals detained as part of a campaign against dissent led by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman before she left England.
Up until Qahtani’s sentence was made public, Shehab’s prison term was thought to be the longest ever imposed on a nonviolent activist in the nation.