Riyadh. A famous law professor has been sentenced to death in Saudi Arabia. The professor was sentenced for offenses including merely owning a Twitter account and using WhatsApp to share news deemed “hostile” to the state. Awad al-Qarni, 65, was arrested in 2017 in a crackdown on dissidents by the Saudi government led by new Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
According to The Guardian’s report, Al-Qarni has been described as a dangerous preacher in the Saudi-controlled media. However, detractors point out that al-Qarni was an important and well-known intellectual on social media, with two million followers on his Twitter account. The allegations against Al Karni have been disclosed by his son Nasser who fled from Saudi Arabia to the UK where he took refuge.
Human rights advocates and Saudi dissidents living in exile have warned that authorities in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia are embarking on a new and severe crackdown on individuals deemed critical of the government.
However, this is not the first time that the Crown Prince has targeted an ‘anti-Saudi’.
Such punishments have already been given
Last year, Salma al-Shahab, a Leeds Ph.D. student and mother of two, was sentenced to 34 years for having a Twitter account and following and retweeting the tweets of opponents and activists. Another woman, Noura al-Qahtani, was sentenced to 45 years in prison for using Twitter.
The Guardian quoted defense documents as saying that since the beginning of the reign of Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the use of social media and other communications has been criminalized in the Kingdom.
The Saudi government and state-controlled investors have recently increased their financial stakes in US social media platforms including Twitter and Facebook and in entertainment companies such as Disney.
Earlier this month, after a report said Saudi Arabia had jailed two admins for infiltrating Wikipedia to moderate content on the website, activists accused the Saudis of “spying” on Thursday. I gave these information weeks after a former Twitter activist was sent to jail.
Activists said that one administrator was sentenced to 32 years and the other to eight years.