Following the persistent international pressure, prominent Saudi Arabian women’s rights activist Loujain Al-Hathloul has been released on Wednesday after 1000 days in detention. She is known as a vocal advocate for Saudi women’s right to drive. The detention of Al-Hathloul is called a politically motivated move.
“Loujain is at home,” tweeted her sister Lina.
The 31-year old activist was arrested several times for her efforts to defy the ban on women driving in Saudi Arabia. She was held guilty 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 by the kingdom’s anti-terrorism court.
She was arrested in the May 2018 sweep that targeted well-known opponents of the kingdom’s since-rescinded law barring women from driving. She was sentenced to five years and eight months in jail, including two years and ten months suspension by Riyadh’s Specialized Criminal Court, a terror tribunal.
Her release came days after the White House called on Saudi Arabia to release the political prisoners.
In the six-page charge sheet filed in Al-Hathloul’s case, a section entitled “crimes committed” includes activism against the kingdom’s restrictive male guardianship laws, along with contact with foreign journalists and diplomats.
As per the statement of Al-Hathloul’s family in December, she will remain on probation for three years following her release, during which time, she can be arrested if she indulged in any illegal activity. She will also be banned from traveling for five years.
She had also reported sexual assault and torture in the prison including waterboarding, flogging and electrocution.