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Papers show woman got 45-year sentence for using Twitter to ‘challenge’ Saudi royals

In this March 7, 2020, file photo, a man walks past a banner showing Saudi King Salman, right, and his Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, outside a mall in Jiddah, Saudi Arabia. (AP Photo/Amr Nabil, File)
In this March 7, 2020, file photo, a man walks past a banner showing Saudi King Salman, right, and his Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, outside a mall in Jiddah, Saudi Arabia. (AP Photo/Amr Nabil, File)

A Saudi woman recently jailed for 45 years was sentenced for using Twitter to “challenge” the country’s king and crown prince, according to a court document seen today by AFP.

The harsh sentence for Nourah al-Qahtani, which came to light last week and drew swift international condemnation, was issued less than a month after US President Joe Biden voiced concern about human rights abuses during a controversial visit to Saudi Arabia.

The sentencing document was provided to AFP by Democracy for the Arab World Now (DAWN), a Washington-based rights group founded by slain Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

AFP could not independently verify it, and Saudi authorities have not responded to requests for comment on the case.

The document describes Qahtani as a mother of five in her late 40s who suffers from unspecified health issues.

She does not have a large public profile and it is not clear how her anonymous Twitter account, which has fewer than 600 followers, attracted the attention of Saudi authorities.

The court found that Qahtani had used Twitter “to challenge the religion and justice” of King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the kingdom’s 37-year-old de facto ruler, according to the document.

It also says she incited “the activities of those who seek to disturb public order and destabilize the security of society and the stability of the state” by “publishing false and malicious tweets.”

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