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Saudi Arabian Women’s Rights Activist Who Applied For UN Job Jailed

 

Saudi Arabian Women’s Rights Activist Who Applied For UN Job Jailed

Loujain al-Hathloul, 31, has been held since 2018 following her arrest along with at least a dozen other activists.

Today, a Saudi court sentenced her to five years and eight months in prison, her family and local media said.

Hathloul was charged with seeking to change the Saudi political system and harming national security, Sabq and al-Shark al-Awsat newspapers said.

According to Hathloul’s sister, the court suspended two years and 10 months of her sentence, most of the time already served since her arrest on May 15, 2018, with a conditional release to follow.

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She could therefore be released around the end of February 2021, with a return to prison possible if she commits any crime, according to the Mirror.

Hathloul was also given a five-year travel ban, her sister Lina tweeted, adding that both the public prosecutor and Hathloul could appeal the judge’s verdict.

The trial has drawn international condemnation as Riyadh faces renewed US scrutiny.

The verdict poses an early challenge to Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s relationship with US President-elect Joe Biden, who has criticised Riyadh’s human rights record.

UN human rights experts have called the charges “spurious” and along with leading rights groups and politicians in the United States and Europe have called for the woman’s release.

Hathloul, who had championed women’s right to drive and for ending the kingdom’s male guardian system, was subjected to abuse, including electric shocks, waterboarding, flogging, and sexual assault, rights groups, and her family say.

Saudi authorities have denied the charges.

The criminal court last week cleared the prosecution of torturing Hathloul in detention, saying there was no evidence to support the allegations.

Hathloul’s sentencing came nearly three weeks after a Riyadh court jailed US-Saudi physician Walid al-Fitaihi for six years, despite US pressure to release him, in a case rights groups have called politically motivated.

Foreign diplomats said the two trials aimed to send a message at home and abroad that Saudi Arabia would not yield to pressure on human rights issues.

Riyadh could also use the sentences as leverage in future negotiations with the Biden administration, according to The Mirror.

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