Activist Loujain al-Hathloul released from prison!
Women’s rights activist Loujain al-Hathloul has been released from a Saudi prison after nearly three years behind bars, according to her family.
Loujain al-Hathloul born 31 July 1989 is a Saudi women's rights activist, a social media figure, and a former political prisoner. She is a graduate of the University of British Columbia.
Al-Hathloul has been arrested and released on several occasions for defying the ban on women driving in Saudi Arabia and was arrested in May 2018, with several prominent women's rights activists, on the charge of "attempting to destabilise the kingdom" after being effectively kidnapped in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). As of October 2018, her husband, Saudi stand-up comedian Fahad al-Butairi, had also been forcefully returned from Jordan to the Kingdom and was under arrest.
Al-Hathloul is known both for her role in the women to drive movement and in opposing the Saudi male guardianship system.
On 1 December 2014, she was arrested and detained for 73 days after an attempt to cross the border in her car from the UAE to Saudi Arabia, on charges related to defying the female driving ban in the kingdom. She has a UAE licence but the Saudi police still arrested her. Al-Hathloul attempted to stand in Saudi local elections in December 2015, the first vote in Saudi Arabia to include women, but was barred.
At the end of October 2020, Loujain al-Hathloul started a hunger strike. According to Hathloul's sisters, Lina and Alia, who broke the news on Twitter, the activist started her hunger strike on 26 October 2020 against the al-Hair prison administration, demanding regular contact with her family and siblings.
On November 10, 2020, the Saudi ambassador to the UK said that Saudi Arabia was considering to release women rights activist Loujain Al-Hatloul, ahead of its hosting of the G20 summit in November. The decision was considered after the international political pressure to release her, as she was on a weeks-long hunger strike.
On 25 November 2020, after the Riyadh G20 summit was concluded, Loujain al-Hathloul was transferred to a special court for terrorism and national security crimes. Her sister, Lina al-Hathloul, feared that Loujain was being pressured into giving false confessions, which could be used against her during the trial.
On 29 November 2020, seven European envoys released a joint statement condemning the continued detention of five women's rights activists, including Loujain al-Hathloul, whose case was referred to a special court for terrorism-related offences. The envoys demanded the release of Hathloul, who had been in jail since May 2018 after a sweep targeted prominent critics of the kingdom's former law barring women from driving.
On 28 December 2020, al-Hathloul was sentenced to five years and eight months in prison.
On 10 February 2021, al-Hathloul's sister announced on Twitter that she had been released from prison