Núra bint Saíd Kahtání, about whom little information is known, has no apparent activist past. According to the official indictment, her case relates to the use of social media. However, Saudi officials did not respond to a request for comment.
The verdict came not long after Salma Shiháb, a Saudi doctoral student at the University of Leeds in England, was similarly sentenced to 34 years in prison for having an account on the social network Twitter, following the accounts of dissidents and activists and sharing their posts.
The court handed down a 45-year sentence based on the country’s anti-terrorism and cybercrime laws. At the same time, this court usually deals with political and national security cases.
The judges accused Kahtání of disrupting the cohesion of society and destabilizing the social structure, as stated in the indictment, referring to her activities on social networks. According to the indictment, Kahtáníová should have offended public order through an information network.
It is not yet clear what exactly the accused woman published on the Internet or where her hearing took place. She has been in custody since July 4, 2021, according to the Washington-based organization Democracy for the Arab World Now (DAWN).
I will make pariahs out of them, Biden promised
“It is very hard to ignore the fact that we are witnessing these verdicts at a time when Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman has gained more legitimacy in the international sphere,” said Allison McManus, director of research at the Freedom Initiative, a Washington-based human rights group.
The rulings sparked fresh anger on social media at Prince Mohammed’s crackdown on dissent, even as the ultra-conservative Islamic country granted new freedoms to women, such as the right to drive.
American President Joe Biden went to the kingdom in July this year to meet, among other things, with Prince Muhammad, whom he is said to have confronted on the issue of human rights.
When Biden took office, he promised to make Saudi Arabia a diplomatic pariah over the 2018 murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi.