The thin red line between freedom of expression, activism and danger to society was lived in Saudi Arabiawhere a Saudi court sentenced a woman to 45 years in prison for allegedly harming the country through her social media activity, according to a court document.
The woman is Nourah bint Saeed al-Qahtani and has no prior history of activism. However, this time she was convicted under the kingdom’s extensive anti-terrorism and cybercrime laws.
The judges charged al-Qahtani with “disrupting the cohesion of society” and “destabilizing the social fabric,” according to the charge sheet, citing his activity on social media. They alleged that al-Qahtani “offended public order through the information network.”
It is not clear what al-Qahtani posted online or where his hearing was held. She was detained on July 4, 2021, according to the Washington-based human rights watchdog Democracy for the Arab World Now (DAWN), which is critical of the kingdom.
“This looks like the start of a new wave of sentences and convictions by new judges who have been placed in the specialized criminal court,” said Abdullah Alaoudh, regional director of DAWN.