Prominent Saudi activist Loujain al-Hathloul freed from jail after nearly 3 years
Prominent women’s rights activist Loujain al-Hathloul was released from a Saudi prison on Wednesday after nearly three years behind bars, her sister said in a Twitter post, in a case that had drawn international condemnation.
“Loujain is at home !!!!!!” her sister Lina tweeted, posting a close-up picture of Hathloul’s face.
Loujain is at home !!!!!!
تم الافراج عن لجين pic.twitter.com/fqug9VK6Mj
— Lina Alhathloul لينا الهذلول (@LinaAlhathloul) February 10, 2021
Hathloul, 31, who fought to end a ban on women driving in Saudi Arabia, was detained in May 2018 and sentenced in December to nearly six years in prison on charges that UN human rights experts have called “spurious” under broad counter-terrorism laws.
The court, which also ordered a five-year travel ban, had suspended two years and 10 months of her sentence, in what her family says paved the way for her early release.
The verdict was a “face-saving exit strategy” for the Saudi government after it came under severe international pressure for her release, the source close to Hathloul’s family told AFP at the time.
Rights groups and her family say Hathloul was subjected to abuse, including electric shocks, waterboarding, flogging and sexual assault while detained.
Saudi authorities denied the accusations. A Saudi appeals court dismissed the torture claims, citing a lack of evidence, her family said on Tuesday.
Amnesty International on Wednesday urged Riyadh to bring to justice “those responsible for her torture” and ensure Hathloul faces no further punitive measures like a travel ban.
Saudi officials have not commented on her conviction or sentencing. There was no immediate comment on her release.
French President Emmanuel Macron, who strongly called for Hathloul’s release last year, welcomed the news, tweeting that he “shared the relief of her family”.
US President Joe Biden described Hathloul as “a powerful advocate for women’s rights” and voiced his approval of Saudi Arabia’s decision to free her from prison, saying it “was the right thing to do”…..read more