Noura Al-Qahtani was first sentenced to 13 years in prison but this was increased to 45 years on appeal. (Photo source: Screengrab / AlEkhbariya).
Noura al-Qahtani received a 45-year sentence in jail, and an additional travel ban for another 45 years once she is released from prison, all due to her posts on Twitter.
The Saudi woman, who suffers from medical problems, according to The Guardian, was found guilty of “spreading lies through tweets” and “besmirching” King Salman and Prince Mohammed.
According to Democracy for the Arab World Now (DAWN), the Specialized Criminal Court convicted Noura al-Qahtani for “violating public order by using social media.” The court added that she used “the Internet to tear the country’s social fabric,” as well as “producing and storing materials violating public order and religious values.”
DAWN is a group based in Washington D.C., USA, founded by murdered journalist Jamal Khashoggi, an open critic of the monarchy who was assassinated inside the Saudi Arabian consulate in Istambul in 2018.
Last month, Saudi authorities gave Salma al-Shehab, a researcher at Leeds University and activist for women’s rights, a 34-year prison term. According to the UN, she received the harshest punishment in the Kingdom for advocating for women’s rights.
“It is impossible not to connect the dots between Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s meeting with President Biden [in July] in Jeddah and the uptick in the repressive attacks against anyone who dares to criticize the Crown Prince or the Saudi government for well-documented abuses,” said Abdullah Alaoudh, Director of Research for the Gulf Region at DAWN.
Furthermore, “… the Crown Prince would not allow such vindictive and excessive sentences if he felt that these actions would be met by a meaningful response of the United States and other Western governments,” he added.
Al-Qahtani was first sentenced to 13 years in prison, but the verdict was increased to 45 years on appeal after a prosecutor argued that the original punishment was too lenient.
Some posts appeared to support the rights of political prisoners while criticizing Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
Al-Qahtani’s defense, according to the official court document, included the fact that she was not involved in terrorism, that she was close to 50 years old, and that she had no prior convictions.