News ID: 90074
Publish Date : 10 May 2021 - 21:29
RIYADH (AP) – Saudi Arabia’s most prominent women’s rights activist has been summoned by security officials and informed of a supreme court decision that ultimately upholds her initial conviction, relatives told The Associated Press.
The twists and turns of Loujain al-Hathloul’s case have drawn international attention and brought focus to a wider crackdown on rights activists and perceived government critics in Saudi Arabia under Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. She’d been among a group of vocal activists who pushed for greater women’s rights and the right of women to drive a car before the ban was lifted in mid-2018.
Al-Hathloul was tried in December by an anti-terrorism court on charges related to her activism. She was sentenced to five years and eight months with conditional release.
She was released from prison on Feb. 10 after nearly three years in detention, including stretches of solitary confinement and allegations she’d been tortured.
Her release from prison in February, based on time already served, came just weeks after the inauguration of President Joe Biden, who has vowed to reassess the U.S.-Saudi partnership and stand up for human rights. He welcomed the news of her release from prison at the time, describing it as "the right thing to do.”
On Sunday, her sister, Alia al-Hathloul, told the AP she was asked to report to the office of the Interior Ministry’s General Directorate of Investigation, or "mabaheth”, in the capital, Riyadh. It was not immediately known why she’d been summoned.
Hours later, her relatives told the AP and her sister, Lina al-Hathloul, confirmed on Twitter that she’d been called in to sign a document informing her of a supreme court decision to uphold the judgment of an appeals’ court, which had upheld her initial conviction. They questioned why she was informed of the legal ruling by a security agency.
The latest development comes as al-Hathloul has recently shared posts about a women’s rights campaign against sexual harassment in Kuwait, and waded into the recent normalization of relations between some Arab regimes and the Zionist regime.
She also wrote that many of her Saudi friends have stopped tweeting altogether.
"When is this nightmare going to end?” she said in a tweet, adding "I WANT my friends back!”
Saudi authorities have arrested dozens of activists, bloggers, intellectuals and others perceived as political opponents ever since Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman became Saudi Arabia’s de facto leader in 2017, showing almost zero tolerance for dissent even in the face of international condemnations of the clampdown.           
Over the past years, Riyadh has also redefined its anti-terrorism laws to target activism.
* Comment: