Saudi woman sentenced to 45 years in prison for 'defying' royal family

Saudi woman sentenced to 45 years in prison for “defying” the royal family

The court found that Nurah al-Qahtani used Twitter to challenge the religion and justice of King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. (archive)

A Saudi woman was recently sentenced to 45 years in prison for “challenging” the country's king and crown prince on Twitter, according to court documents seen by the Saudi Arabia on Tuesday. #x27;Agence France-Presse (AFP).

The heavy sentence for Nourah al-Qahtani, revealed last week, came less than a month after US President Joe Biden's controversial visit to the oil-rich kingdom.

The Democratic leader had met in July with Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS), regularly criticized by NGOs for serious human rights violations in his country.

The text of the judgment, dated August 9, was provided to AFP by the organization Democracy for the Arab World Now, founded in Washington by murdered Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

AFP could not independently verify this. Saudi authorities did not respond to requests for comment on the case.

According to the document, the court ruled that 50-year-old Nourah al-Qahtani had used the social network Twitter to challenge the religion and justice of King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the de facto ruler of the kingdom.

With her 600 followers, this mother of five has been convicted for calling for participation in activities disturbing public order and threatening security, posting false and malicious tweets, insulting symbols and public officials. State and requested the release of detainees in security-related matters, the document says.

Al-Qahtani's account, as identified in the court document, posts tweets criticizing the government, and its banner has a hashtag calling for an anti-government protest.

Her last message is dated July 2021, the month in which she was arrested before being sentenced at first instance to six and a half years in prison, and a travel ban for a similar period.

The prosecution appealed, however, demanding a harsher sentence for his crimes, and obtained his sentence of 45 years in prison.

On August 9, another critical citizen, Salma al-Chehab, was sentenced to 34 years in prison for helping dissidents destabilize the state by relaying their tweets.

The sentence imposed on al-Qahtani now fits into a pattern, said Abdullah Alaoudh, DAWN's research director for the Gulf region.

According to him, the authorities are targeting ordinary people to send shock waves and scare Saudis into refraining from criticizing the government, even on anonymous Twitter accounts.

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