Saudi Women’s Right Activist Sentenced to Nearly Six Years in Prison

A Saudi court on Dec. 28 has sentenced women’s rights activist Loujain al-Hathloul to five years and eight months in prison under broad counter-terrorism laws.

A Saudi court on Dec. 28 has sentenced women’s rights activist Loujain al-Hathloul to five years and eight months in prison under broad counter-terrorism laws.

According to local media, the court found the 31-year-old activist guilty of “seeking to change the Saudi political system and harming national security” for spying with foreign parties and cooperating with entities that have committed crimes under counter-terrorism laws.

The court also suspended two years and 10 months of her sentence, which she already mostly served since she, along with four other women’s rights activists, was arrested in May 15, 2018 for “harming the kingdom’s interests.” The suspension meant she could be released in March 2021, but is required to serve a 3-year probation after her release.

According to her sister Lina, Loujain was also subject to a five-year travel ban and that Loujain will appeal the court’s sentence, which she has 30 days to do so.

“She was charged, tried, and convicted using counter-terrorism laws. 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,” Lina said in a statement.

The United Nations Human Rights office called the sentence “deeply troubling” in a tweet and “strongly encourage” her possible early release as a “matter of urgency.”

Loujain campaigned for human rights in Saudi Arabia, including women’s right to drive and to apply for a passport and travel freely. She also launched hunger strikes while in prison and joined other women activists in alleging torture and sexual harassment during interrogations.


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