On 24 August, the BRISMES Committee on Academic Freedom wrote to the Vice-Chancellor of University of Leeds and to the UK government to express our alarm at the conviction and jailing of University of Leeds PhD student Salma al-Shehab. We are appalled Mrs. Al-Shehab has been sentenced to 34 years in prison for peacefully expressing her views on Twitter, advocating for women's rights and supporting human rights defenders also unjustly persecuted and jailed by Saudi Arabia. We add our voice to those of the many other organisations and individuals that have already expressed alarm at Salma's imprisonment.
We ask the University of Leeds to:
- issue a public statement unequivocally condemning Salma al-Shehab's conviction and jailing and calling for her immediate release and the dropping of all charges against her.
- meet with the Saudi Ambassador as soon as possible to directly convey this message of condemnation to the Saudi authorities.
- write to Foreign Secretary Liz Truss and PM Boris Johnson urging the British government to likewise condemn Salma's conviction and demand her release and the dropping of all charges against her.
- establish a full scholarship and/or research position for a Saudi researcher at risk in Salma al-Shehab’s name with immediate effect.