Saudi Arabia has sentenced a secondary schoolgirl to 18 years in jail and a travel ban for posting tweets in support of political prisoners, according to a rights group.
On Friday, ALQST rights group, which documents human rights abuses in Saudi Arabia, revealed that the Saudi Specialised Criminal Court handed out the sentence in August to 18-year-old Manal al-Gafiri, who was only 17 at the time of her arrest.
The Saudi judiciary, under the de facto rule of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, has issued several extreme prison sentences over cyber activism and the use of social media for criticising the government.
They include the recent death penalty against Mohammed al-Ghamdi, a retired teacher, for comments made on Twitter and YouTube, and the 34-year sentence of Leeds University doctoral candidate Salma al-Shehab over tweets last year.
The crown prince confirmed Ghamdi’s sentence during a wide-ranging interview with Fox News on Wednesday. He blamed it on “bad laws” that he cannot change. “We are not happy with that. We are ashamed of that. But [under] the jury system, you have to follow the laws, and I cannot tell a judge [to] do that and ignore the law, because… that’s against the rule of law,” he said.