KSA sentences Tunisian doctor to 15 years for reacting to a Tweet
Saudi Arabia's government arrests a 51-year-old Tunisian doctor residing in the kingdom for reacting to a Tweet that portrays events that took place in Tunisia.
The Saudi Court of Appeal increased the sentence of Tunisian national Mahdia Al-Marzouki, from two years and 8 months to 15 years, on charges of interacting with a tweet.
- Al-Marzouki was arrested for interacting with a Twitter video pertaining to pro-Hezbollah demonstrations that took place in front of the Municipal Theater on Habib Bourguiba Street in the Tunisian capital.
The Prisoners of Conscience account, which deals with the conditions of Saudi detainees, wrote on Twitter that Mahdiya is a 51-year-old doctor, whose Twitter following does not exceed 87 followers and thus cannot incite "public unrest and destabilize civil and national security," as the Saudi government proclaims.
🔴Confirmed to us that the Court of Appeal had issued a 15-year prison sentence against a Tunisian residing in the Kingdom Dr. Mahdia Marzouki; On the background of her interaction with a tweet on her Twitter account.— Prisoners of Conscience (@m3takl_en) October 18, 2022
Al-Marzouki has been residing in Saudi Arabia since 2008. She was initially arrested in July 2020, and the investigation continued for a whole year.
The Specialized Criminal Court had sentenced Marzouki to two years and 8 months in prison, and received a one-year suspended sentence, when she was appointed an attorney by the Saudi government and then sentenced by the Appeals Court to 15 years.
Her brother told Al-Jawharah FM that all contact with Al-Marzouki was cut off when she was arrested, adding that the investigations lasted an entire year.
He also confirmed that the family has contacted the Tunisian Consulate for assistance several times, but to no avail, calling on the President of the Tunisian Republic and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to intervene.
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In a similar account, Salma Al-Shehab, a 34-year-old mother of two, aged four and six, was sentenced to three years in prison for the "crime" of using an internet website to "cause public unrest and destabilize civil and national security."
However, an appeals court handed down the new sentence - 34 years in prison followed by a 34-year travel ban - after a public prosecutor requested that the court consider other alleged crimes.
Shehab was not a prominent or particularly vocal Saudi activist, neither in Saudi Arabia nor in the United Kingdom.
On Instagram, where she had only 159 followers, she described herself as a dental hygienist, medical educator, Ph.D. student at Leeds University, lecturer at Princess Nourah bint Abdulrahman University, wife, and mother to her sons, Noah and Adam.
Her Twitter profile listed 2,597 followers. She regularly shared pictures of her young children and tweets about Covid burnout.
Someone who knew Shehab said she couldn't stand injustice. She was described as well-educated and a voracious reader who had moved to the UK in 2018 or 2019 to pursue her Ph.D. at the University of Leeds.
She had returned to Saudi Arabia for a vacation in December 2020, intending to bring her two children and husband with her. Saudi authorities then summoned her for questioning, and she was eventually arrested and tried for her tweets.