Salma al-Shehab (in a photo from 2014): You face 34 years in prison
Photo: Saudi state television / dpa / AP
The United Nations Human Rights Office in Geneva has sharply criticized a court ruling in Saudi Arabia against the student and women's rights activist Salma al-Shehab.
"We are appalled," said spokeswoman Liz Throssell on Friday in Geneva.
The office called on the Saudi authorities to immediately release the woman unconditionally and reverse the sentence.
An appeals court had sentenced al-Shehab to 34 years in prison for her activities on Twitter. You can read more about her case here.
The mother of two, al-Shehab, whose Twitter account has less than 3,000 followers, was actually working on her doctoral thesis in the UK.
She was arrested on a home visit in 2021.
The court convicted her, among other things, because she had positioned herself on Twitter against the oppression of women.
In 2020, for example, in a tweet she called for "freedom for the prisoners of the patriarchy".
Throssell said the case shows authorities are using anti-terrorism and cybercrime laws to intimidate and retaliate against dissidents.
Protests for the release of a blogger
Meanwhile, in Interlaken, around 60 kilometers south-east of Bern, the so-called freethinker movement won the right to put up posters calling on Saudi tourists to stand up for the Saudi blogger Raif Badawi, who has been banned from travelling.
Because many tourists from Saudi Arabia traditionally visit Interlaken in the summer, the movement intends to put up posters in the city.
In Arabic, English and German it says that tourists can enjoy their freedom to travel, but then an appeal follows: "Please work at home to ensure that Raif Badawi can do that again."
The blogger was released from prison in March after ten years in prison and public flogging.
But he is not allowed to leave Saudi Arabia.
The municipality initially prohibited the poster campaign.
The city does not want "to be a platform for conflicts in the world," as mayor Philippe Ritschard said.
After complaints from the freethinkers movement and legal advice, the municipal council withdrew its decision.
The campaign was covered by freedom of expression, it said.