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Saudi Woman Studying in UK Gets 34-Year Prison Sentence for Tweeting While on Saudi Vacation

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A female doctoral student studying at Leeds University in the UK has been sentenced to 34 years in prison in Saudi Arabia for tweeting.

Salma al-Shehab was accused of spreading rumors and retweeting anti-government tweets of dissidents, according to court documents.

The sentence has drawn attention and is being condemned all over the world for its severity.

Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has been cracking down on descent at the same time that he has been granting women more rights and freedoms.

The convicted woman, a mother of two children, was on a family vacation in Saudi Arabia in January 2021, and was planning to return to the United Kingdom where she is a researcher. She was detained in solitary confinement for over 285 days before her case was heard by the court, according to legal documents reported by the Associated Press. 

The Freedom Initiative group says the women has been targeted because she is a member of Saudi Arabia’s Shiite Muslim minority, which has been the victim of discrimination by the Saudi government.

“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,” said Bethany al-Haidari, The Freedom Initiative group’s Saudi case manager.

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