Sentenced to 34 years in prison for spreading rumours and re-tweeting dissidents
Salma al-Shehab, a Saudi doctoral student, mother of two, and a researcher at Leeds University in Britain, has been sentenced to an unusually harsh 34 years in prison, under Saudi counterterrorism and cybercrime laws, to be followed by a 34-year travel ban. This decision has drawn growing global condemnation, even by Saudi standards of justice.
Al-Shehab was detained during a family holiday in Saudi Arabia on Jan. 15, 2021, just days before she planned to return to the UK, and has been held for over 285 days in solitary confinement. She is accused of spreading rumours and retweeting dissidents. According to an official charge sheet, judges accused al-Shehab of disturbing public order and destabilizing the social fabric, claims stemming solely from her social media activity. They alleged she followed and retweeted dissident accounts on Twitter and transmitted false rumours.
Bethany al-Haidari, Saudi case manager said ‘Saudi Arabia has boasted to the world that they are improving women’s rights and creating legal reform, but there is no question with this abhorrent sentence that the situation is only getting worse’.