A Saudi court has sentenced a man to death over his posts on X, formerly known as Twitter, and his activity on YouTube, the latest in a widening crackdown on dissent in the kingdom that has drawn international criticism.
The judgement against Mohammed bin Nasser al-Ghamdi, seen Wednesday by The Associated Press, comes against the backdrop of doctoral student Salma al-Shehab and others facing decadeslong prison sentences over their comments online.
The sentences appear part of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s wider effort to stamp out any defiance in the kingdom as he pursues massive building projects and other diplomatic deals to raise his profile globally.
“Al-Ghamdi’s death sentence over tweets is extremely horrific but stands in line with the Saudi authorities’ escalating crackdown,” said Lina Alhathloul, the head of monitoring and advocacy at the London-based advocacy group ALQST.
“Lengthy prison sentences issued for free speech, such as 27 years against Salma al-Shehab, have not received sufficient outcry, and the authorities have taken this as a green light to double down on their repression,” Alhathloul said. “They are sending a clear and sinister message — that nobody is safe and even a tweet can get you killed.”