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Monday, 14 June 2021

Saudi women's rights activist Hathloul freed from jail

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Saudi women's rights activist Hathloul freed from jail
Saudi women's rights activist Hathloul freed from jail

Prominent women's rights activist Loujain al-Hathloul was released from a Saudi prison after nearly three years behind bars, her family said on Wednesday, a case that has drawn international condemnation.

Lisa Bernhard produced this report.

Prominent women's rights activist Loujain al-Hathloul was released from a Saudi prison after nearly three years behind bars, her family said on Wednesday.

In a case that has drawn international condemnation, 31-year-old Hathloul was detained in May of 2018 and sentenced in December to nearly six years in prison for allegedly seeking to change the Saudi political system and harming national unity – charges U.N.

Human rights experts called "spurious." Hathloul had campaigned for a woman's right to drive and to end Saudi's male guardianship system.

Rights groups and her family say Hathloul, who was detained with several other women's rights activists, was subjected to abuse, including electric shocks, waterboarding, flogging and sexual assault.

Saudi authorities denied the accusations and gave no immediate comment on her release.

The White House has said President Joe Biden, who is taking a firmer line with Saudi Arabia than his predecessor, Donald Trump, expects Riyadh to improve its human rights record, including releasing political prisoners.

Speaking at the Pentagon Wednesday, Biden opened his remarks by hailing her release.

“Before I begin, I have some welcome news that the Saudi government has released a prominent human rights activist, Loujain al-Hathloul from prison.

She was a powerful advocate for women’s rights and releasing her was the right thing to do.” Hathloul still faces a five-year travel ban ordered by the Saudi court.

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