Saudi human rights activist Loujain al-Hathloul was sentenced on Monday, December 28, to five years and eight months in prison by a court specializing in anti-terrorism cases, several Saudi media reported. She was found guilty of “Various activities prohibited by the anti-terrorism law”, said the online media Sabq, a representative of whom attended the hearing.
The activist has been in pre-trial detention for more than two years, a period taken into account in the sentence handed down, Saudi media said citing the court ruling.
Loujain al-Hathloul was arrested with other activists in May 2018, shortly before the lifting of the ban on driving for Saudi women, a reform for which these women were campaigning.
31-year-old Loujain al-Hathloul accused of having been in contact with states, Saudi Foreign Minister Faisal bin Farhan Al-Saoud says “Hostile” to the kingdom and to have transmitted confidential information. But his family say the Saudi government has not provided any tangible evidence to support the charges.
Loujain al-Hathloul’s family announced on November 25 that their case had been transferred by a judge from the Riyadh criminal court to a terrorism court. This specialized criminal court was created in 2008 to try terrorism cases, but it has since been widely used to try political prisoners, according to human rights organizations.
Saudi Arabia is widely criticized in the West for its human rights record. The activist went on a hunger strike in prison on October 26, before interrupting it two weeks later, according to her family and Amnesty International.