Loujain el- Hathloul one of Saudi Arabia’s most prominent women’s rights campaigners, has been released after more than 1,000 days in prison for what critics have described as politically-motivated charges.
Hathloul, 31, was arrested in a May 2018 sweep that targeted well-known opponents of the kingdom’s since-rescinded law barring women from driving. She told her family she had been tortured andsexually abused in prison — allegations Riyadh repeatedly denied — and her detention was condemned by the United Nations and global human rights groups. Last December, Riyadh’s Specialized Criminal Court — a terror tribunal — sentenced Hathloul to five years and eight months in prison, including a two-year and 10-month suspension, according to a statement released by her family. With the time she had already served, the sentencing paved the way for Hathloul’s realese on Wednesday.
Hathloul will remain on probation for three years following her release, during which time she could be arrested for any perceived illegal activity, the family said in a statement in December. She will also be banned from traveling for five years, they said.
Hathloul’s release comes less than a week after the White House called on the kingdom to release political prisoners, including women’s rights activists. President Joe Biden has vowed to pressure Saudi Arabia into improving its rights record, marking a departure from former President Donald Trump’s reluctance to criticize the kingdom’s ramped up crackdown on dissent in recent years.”We’re excited (about her release), but the fight for justice is not over yet,” Hathloul’s brother, Walid al-Hathloul, told “We would have to work very hard to secure justice for Loujain, but we’re very delighted for this news.”
“Therefore we’re far away from justice.”
“Any release that does not include an independent investigation of the charges, does not include lifting the travel ban, does not include dropping the charges, is not freedom,” said Walid al-Hathloul. “Therefore we’re far away from justice.”