One of Saudi Arabia’s most prominent women’s rights activists was sentenced to nearly six years in prison on Monday, media close to the state reported, under a vague anti-terrorism law.
The ruling nearly ended a case that has drawn international criticism and the ire of US lawmakers.
Loujain al-Hathloul has already been in pre-trial detention and has endured several periods of isolation. His continued incarceration is likely to be a point of contention in relations between the kingdom and the incoming administration of President-elect Joe Biden , whose inauguration takes place in January, about two months earlier than is now known. he hopes that is the release date for al-Hathloul.
The activist was convicted of “trying to change the kingdom’s political system and promoting a foreign agenda using the internet,” according to El País.
The media points out that the sentence is below the 20 years requested by the prosecutor, but it is still harsh for a person whose crime was defending the right of women to drive, this before the restriction was lifted in 2018, and therefore male guardianship.
The human rights group “Prisoners of Conscience”, which focuses on Saudi political detainees, said al-Hathloul could be released in March 2021 due to time spent behind bars. She has been incarcerated since May 2018 and will have 34 months of her sentence suspended.
His family said in a statement that he will be prohibited from leaving the kingdom for five years and that he will have to serve three years of probation after being released from prison.
Biden has promised to review the relationship between the United States and Saudi Arabia and take greater account of human rights and democratic principles. He has also vowed to reverse President Donald Trump’s policy of giving Saudi Arabia “a blank check for a set of disastrous policies,” including the harassment of women activists.