The European-Saudi Organisation for Human Rights (ESOHR)) has revealed that a court in Saudi Arabia has sentenced activist Nasser Al-Mubarak to 16 years in prison for sharing a post on Twitter. The ESOHR did not explain the content of the tweet in question, and the Saudi authorities have not made any comment on the case.
Prisoners of Conscience, which follows up on the affairs of prisoners in the Kingdom, confirmed the news of Al-Mubarak’s unduly harsh sentence, again without providing further details. However, the sentence comes in the wake of similarly long prison terms for many individuals, including Muslim scholars and social media activists.
Over the past few weeks, the Saudi judiciary has increased the sentence given to Sheikh Nasser Al-Omar to 30 years in prison; that given to Sheikh Abdul Rahman Al-Mahmoud to 25 years in prison; Sheikh Essam Al-Owaid to 27 years; and Sheikh Ibrahim Al-Dawish to 15 years.
It is worth noting that the Saudi authorities have arrested many local Imams since Mohammed Bin Salman became Crown Prince and the country’s de facto ruler, including Salman Al-Awda, Ali Al-Omari and Awad Al-Qarni.
The Saudi Criminal Court issued a 45-year prison sentence for 50-year-old Saudi citizen Noura Al-Qahtani, after convicting her of a number of alleged crimes. These included using the internet and social media to “spread lies” about the Kingdom and its leaders.
In recent months, a Saudi appeals court sentenced mother of two Salma Al-Shehab, a doctoral student at the University of Leeds, to 34 years in prison, because of her Twitter account. She was arrested and convicted when she returned to Saudi Arabia for a holiday.
Such harsh sentences contradict the benign public image that the Saudi government and its supporters have sought to promote recently, not least that women now enjoy more personal freedom since Bin Salman came to power.