Prison term for Saudi rights activist draws international backlash

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News ID: 50002
Asia » Asia
Publish Date: 12:49 - 30 December 2020
Wednesday, 30 December 2020_A court ruling by Saudi Arabia's judicial system against a prominent human rights activist has triggered a deluge of international criticism.

Prison term for Saudi rights activist draws international backlashSaudi women's rights activist Loujain al-Hathloul was on Monday given five years and eight months in prison over charges related to "terrorism" and was also banned from leaving the country for five years.

The 31-year-old, who has been held since 2018, is accused of allegedly undermining "the kingdom's security, stability and national unity."

The Saudi pro-government Sabq online newspaper reported that the so-called Specialized Criminal Court (SCC) in the capital, Riyadh, issued the verdict against the prominent activist after she was convicted of "various activities prohibited by the [kingdom's] anti-terrorism law."

Hathloul was taken into custody in May 2018 with about a dozen other women's rights activists just weeks before the lifting of a decades-long, medieval ban on driving by women.

The Geneva-based Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights described Hathloul's conviction and sentence as "deeply troubling" and said she had been "arbitrarily" detained.

The organization said it "strongly encourage[d]" Hathloul's early release.

The French Foreign Ministry said it had reiterated a call for the prominent Saudi activist's "quick release."

Germany's human rights commissioner Barbel Kofler also echoed the same view.

Jake Sullivan, the national security adviser in the incoming administration of US President-elect Joe Biden, also wrote in a tweet that, "Saudi Arabia's sentencing of Loujain al-Hathloul for simply exercising her universal rights is unjust and troubling."

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