After 1,000 Days in Prison, Saudi Women’s Rights Activist Released

Loujain al-Hathloul’s imprisonment drew widespread international criticism, including that of the US Congress.

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Gender
2 min read
Loujain al-Hathloul was arrested and released several occasions for defying the ban on women driving in Saudi Arabia.
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One of Saudi Arabia’s most prominent women’s rights activists Loujain al-Hathloul was released after more than 1,000 days in prison, on Wednesday, 10 February.

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 was released in 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 The Associated Press.

Taking to Twitter, the activist’s sister Lina al-Hathloul posted a screenshot from FaceTime of a smiling Loujain, announcing that she was finally home.

Her early release comes at a time when Saudi Arabia faces scrutiny of the United States, where new-in-office President Joe Biden has vowed to reassess the partnership between the two countries, and also stand up for human rights and democratic principles.

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.”

The activist 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 The Associated Press.

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.

(With inputs from The Associated Press.)

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