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Saudi woman sentenced to 45 years in prison for social media posts

A Saudi woman was sentenced to 45 years in prison for her social media posts. EPA-EFE/WAEL HAMZEH
A Saudi woman was sentenced to 45 years in prison for her social media posts. EPA-EFE/WAEL HAMZEH

Aug. 31 (UPI) -- A Saudi woman's social media posts has resulted in a 45-years prison sentence, as the country continues to crack down on dissent.

Nourah bint Saeed al-Qahtani was convicted of "using the internet to tear the social fabric" and "violating public order by using social media," according to the human rights group Dawn.

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Abudllah Alaoudh, director of research for the Gulf region at Dawn, told the BBC that the group learned of the case after receiving court documents by a judicial source. Little is known about her other than that she criticized Saudi leaders.

"Nothing in her court documents pertains to any violence or criminal activity," Alaoudh said. "The charges against her are really broad. They are using the counter-terrorism law and the anti-cybercrime law ... that can criminalize any posting that is even remotely critical of the government."

Qahtani's sentencing comes just weeks after a Saudi women's rights activist was handed a 34-year prison sentence for tweets that criticized the kingdom's ruling government. Salma al-Shehab had used Twitter while in the United Kingdom to call for reforms and the release of activists in Saudi Arabia.

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She was studying for a doctorate at the university, where her research focused on improving dental treatment for patients with disabilities.

The Freedom Initiative human rights group called al-Shebab's sentence the "longest prison sentence given to a Saudi women's rights defender, marking an escalation in MBS crackdown on dissent."

MBS is short for Saudi Arabia's ruling Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman Al Saud.

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