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Thursday, December 7, 2023

Saudi Arabia jails women’s rights activist Loujain Al-Hathloul — local media

A Saudi terrorism court has jailed Loujain al-Hathloul for five years and eight months, local media have reported. She was arrested along with other women activists in 2018.

Women’s rights activist Loujain al-Hathloul was sentenced to five years and eight months in prison on Monday, local media reported. The jail term comes despite pressure from international organizations and human rights groups to release her.

Two years and 10 months of her sentence were suspended.

Al-Hathloul, 31, was arrested in May 2018 along with around a dozen other women activists, weeks before Saudi Arabia lifted its decadeslong ban on female drivers. Most of them had been campaigning for the right to drive. They are accused of terrorism-related charges.

UN experts have called the charges against her “spurious.”

Elizabeth Broderick, the chair of the UN working group on discrimination against women and girls, has called for al-Hathloul’s immediate release, saying that she was on trial “for exercising her fundamental rights to freedom of expression, peaceful assembly and association.”

Al-Hathloul’s case was transferred to the Specialized Criminal Court (SCC), or anti-terrorism court, last month.

Human Rights Watch said earlier this month that Saudi authorities were rushing through her trial. The rights group has previously criticized the SCC for silencing government critics by holding unfair trials and meting out long jail terms.

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