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Saudi Arabia, activist sentenced to 34 years for his tweets

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Saudi Arabia, activist sentenced to 34 years for his tweets

Thirty-four years for a series of tweets. This is the sentence inflicted in Saudi Arabia on a doctoral student at the British University of Leeds, specialized in health care and mother of two children: the one against Salma al Shebab, announced in recent days by the human rights organization Freedom Initiative, based in Washington specializes in the Middle East. According to the same group, the harshest sentence imposed on an activist who deals with women’s rights in the country.

Salma al Shehab was on vacation in Saudi Arabia in January 2021 and had planned to return to the UK when she was stopped, the Freedom Initiative explains in a series of tweets. “What happened is irrational, heartbreaking and disastrous for her and the hundreds of women detained on similar rights-support charges,” said Hala Dosari, a Saudi Arabian refugee for years, a US refugee.

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by our correspondent Paolo Mastrolilli


Al Shehab was originally sentenced to six years in prison for a series of tweets she posted calling for more rights for women in the kingdom. A fate similar to that of other activists – especially those active on the right to drive – in past years. But on appeal last week the court increased the sentence to 34 years.

A case that risks not being isolated. According to Bethany Alhaidari, an American-Saudi activist and responsible for the country for the Freedom Initiative, the cases in which the sentences have been increased on appeal are numerous. Arrests of female activists are also on the rise.

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The squeeze denounced by the Freedom Initiative comes at a time when the Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who effectively leads the country in place of his elderly father, King Salman, has returned to being a protagonist on the international scene after the years of frost that followed. to the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi by a commando made up of men close to him. In a few weeks, MbS, as is known, received in Jeddah the American president Joe Bidenwent to the Elysée by the French leader Emmanuel Macron and spoke on the phone with the Russian Vladimir Putin.

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