According to court documents acquired Thursday, a Saudi court sentenced a PhD student to 34 years in prison for spreading “rumors” and retweeting dissidents, a decision that has received mounting global condemnation.

Activists and attorneys say the sentence handed down to Salma al-Shehab, a mother of two and a researcher at Leeds University in the United Kingdom, is appalling even by Saudi standards.

The verdict, which has so far gone unnoticed by the kingdom, comes amid Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s crackdown on dissent, even as his reign handed women the right to drive and other new freedoms in the ultraconservative Islamic nation.

According to the Freedom Initiative, Al-Shehab was detained during a family holiday on January 15, 2021, just days before she expected to return to the United Kingdom a Washington-based human rights group.

According to legal records obtained by The Associated Press, Al-Shehab told judges she had been imprisoned for more than 285 days before her case was ever taken to court.

Source: AP News

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