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Saudi court gives doctoral student 34 years in prison

Salma al-Shehab speaks to a journalist on Saudi state television in March 2014. Saudi state television/Provided by Associated Press

Saudi court gives doctoral student 34 years in prison

Salma al-Shehab received the sentence for spreading “rumors” and retweeting dissidents’ criticisms of the government, according to documents obtained by the Associated Press on Thursday. Saudi authorities arrested her in January 2021, and she spent 285 days in solitary confinement before her case was even referred to court. Her sentence comes during a crackdown by Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman on critics of the government.

Who is al-Shehab? The mother of two is a researcher at Leeds University in Britain and is a Shiite Muslim—a minority sect in Saudi Arabia. The Freedom Initiative, a Washington-based human rights group, says the Shiite Muslim community in Saudi Arabia has complained of systemic discrimination for years. The Saudi court’s verdict comes in response to al-Shehab’s social media activity and her support for individuals critical of the government.

Dig deeper: Read A.S. Ibrahim’s column about what President Joe Biden’s fist-bump with Mohammed bin Salman means.

Josh Schumacher

Josh is a breaking news reporter for WORLD. He’s a graduate of WORLD Journalism Institute and Patrick Henry College.


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