A women’s rights activist who applied for a job at the United Nations has been jailed for almost six years.
31-year-old Loujain al-Hathloul from Saudi Arabia has been detained three years ago after she was arrested along with other activists.
Hathloul was charged with harming national security and seeking to change the Saudi political system. She has been sentenced to five years and eight months in jail, local media and her family said.
UN human rights experts called the charges ‘spurious.’ Other US and European politicians and leading rights groups have also called for Hathloul’s release.
According to her family and rights group, she was subjected to abuse, including sexual assault, flogging, waterboarding, and electric shocks.
The original charge sheet included applying for a job at the UN, meeting European and British diplomats, speaking to international human rights groups and foreign press agencies, and using her arrest in her CV.
Other charges included joining a group chat where she discussed an new constitution and human rights and receiving daily expenses from foreign organizations when attending conferences to speak about women in Saudi.
After more than two years in prison, the Saudi court suspended 2 years and 10 months of her sentence with a conditional release, Hathloul’s sister said.
This means she could be released from jail by the end of February 2021 but she could go back to jail if she commits any crime.
Hathhoul’s sister also revealed that she was given a five-year travel ban and Hathloul and the public prosecutor could appeal the judge’s ruling.
The sentencing comes almost three weeks after US-Saudi doctor Walid al-Fitahi was jailed in Riyadh for 6 years despite the United State’s pressure to have him released.
One diplomat said Riyadh could use the sentences as leverage in negotiations with the Biden administration.
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