Saudi Activist Who Fought For Women’s Rights Jailed For 6 Years
Loujain al-Hathloul was arrested & released several occasions for defying the ban on women driving in Saudi Arabia.
Loujain al-Hathloul, one of Saudi Arabia's most prominent women's rights activists, was sentenced to nearly six years in prison under anti-terrorism law, reported state-linked media.
al-Hathloul's imprisonment, in May 2018, drew widespread international criticism, including that of US Congress and European Union lawmakers.
The 31-year-old activist is likely to be released in May 2021, after the court suspended 34 months of her sentence – with a conditional release that she returns to jail if any crime is committed by her, reported Associated Press.
She is also banned from travelling outside the country for five years.
“My sister is not a terrorist, she is an activist. To be sentenced for her activism for the very reforms that MBS and the Saudi kingdom so proudly tout is the ultimate hypocrisy,” her sisiter Lina said in a statement to Reuters.
WHO IS AL-HATHLOUL
al-Hathloul was arrested and released on several occasions for defying the ban on women driving in Saudi Arabia.
She was arrested in May 2018, with several prominent women's rights activists, on the charge of "attempting to de-stabilise the kingdom."
She was reportedly found guilty by the kingdom’s anti-terrorism court on charges of "agitating for change, pursuing a foreign agenda, using the internet to harm public order and cooperating with individuals and entities that have committed crimes under anti-terror laws," according to state-linked Saudi news site Sabq, quoted by Associated Press. She has 30 days to file for appeal.
The Saudi activist had earlier launched hunger strikes to protest her imprisonment and joined other female activists and told the court she was tortured and sexually assaulted by masked men during interrogations in connection with the case.
HOW US REACTED TO THE SENTENCING
Jake Sullivan, US President-Elect Joe Biden's incoming national security adviser, indicated his administration is likely to raise human rights issues in relations with Riyadh.
US State Department spokesman Cale Brown said the United States was "concerned by reports" of Hathloul's sentence.
The United Nations human rights experts, on the other hand, have called the charges "spurious." The UN human rights office said the conviction was "deeply troubling" and called for her urgent release, Reuters reported.
(With inputs from Reuters, AP)
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