Saudi woman sentenced to 30 years over tweets, as crackdown deepens

A Saudi woman has been sentenced to more than 30 years in prison for anonymously tweeting about political prisoners, women’s rights and unemployment, the UK-based rights group Alqst has told Middle East Eye.

Fatima al-Shawarbi, who is from Al-Ahsa province and believed to be under 30, was sentenced by the Specialized Criminal Court (SCC) during an appeal hearing, sources inside the kingdom with knowledge of her case told Alqst.

The court also handed her a 30-year and six-month travel ban.

Shawarbi is reported to have used her anonymous Twitter account to highlight the plight of the Howeitat – a tribe whose members have been forcibly displaced for the Neom megaproject – women’s rights, and calling for a constitutional monarchy.

MEE understands that she told friends whom she met online to sound the alarm if she stopped tweeting for more than a month but had not shared her real name or photo so they could campaign if she disappeared.

Sources told Alqst that Shawarbi was arrested in November 2020 and is believed to have been sentenced by the SCC earlier this year.

In March, the same sources said she participated in a hunger strike along with Leeds University PhD candidate Salma al-Shehab and six other women, in protest against their imprisonment and calling for their immediate release.

Source: MEE