A rights group reported that a Saudi Arabian court had sentenced a woman to 45 years in prison over social media remarks, the latest illustration of a campaign against female activists that began after U.S. President Joe Biden visited the country.
Nourah bint Saeed al-Qahtani was found guilty by the Saudi Specialized Criminal Court “likely within the last week” of “using the internet to tear the (Saudi) social fabric” and “violating public order by using social media,” according to a statement from the Washington-based media organisation, which cited court records.
Qahtani’s social media posts and little else about her are unknown, according to media, which stated it was still looking into her case.
A few weeks before to Qahtani’s conviction, Salma al-Shehab, a mother of two and doctorate candidate at the University of Leeds in Britain, had received a sentence of 35 years in prison for her actions on Twitter, including following and retweeting activists and dissidents.
The most recent examples occurred after Biden brought up human rights issues at his meeting with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in July, which is a key source of friction between Washington and its longtime ally Riyadh.
The Qahtani and Shehab trials highlighted a crackdown on dissent led by Prince Mohammed, the de facto ruler of Saudi Arabia, despite the fact that he has pushed for reforms like allowing women to drive and programmes to create jobs.
Initially, family members of Saudi political detainees hoped that Biden’s visit might contribute to the release of loved ones who had been imprisoned as a result of the crackdown.
Saudi authorities utilised “abusive” regulations to target and punish Saudi nationals for criticising the government on Twitter in the Shebab and Qahtani instances, according to Abdullah al-Aoudh, Director of Research for the Gulf Region at media.
“This is only half the picture, though, as even the crown prince would not have permitted such vengeful and harsh sentencing if he had believed that the United States and other Western nations would hold him and his actions accountable. Obviously they are not “In DAWN’s statement, Aoudh remarked.
According to Saudi officials, there are no political prisoners in the country. Adel al-Jubeir, the Saudi Arabian minister of state for foreign affairs, told the media last month, “We have inmates in Saudi Arabia who have committed crimes, who were put on trial by our courts and were found guilty.”
The idea that they would be referred to as political prisoners is absurd, he continued.
Tensions surrounding oil-rich Relationships between Saudi Arabia and the United States have been strained due to Saudi Arabia’s human rights record, particularly in regards to women’s rights and the 2018 murder and dismemberment of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.