Saudi Women’s Rights Activist Loujain al-Hathloul Goes on Trial
Jailed Saudi Arabian women’s rights activist Loujain al-Hathloul was scheduled to go on trial on Wednesday in Riyadh, her family announced. Hathloul and 10 other female activists were arrested in May 2018 as part of a sweeping crackdown on women campaigning for the right to drive. Weeks after her arrest Saudi Arabia lifted its ban on women driving. Hathloul, 31, has been on a hunger strike for the last month in protest of her prison conditions, including being denied regular contact with her family and being denied access to a lawyer. She reportedly has been subject to physical and psychological abuse in prison. The Saudi government denies the reports of torture. Hathloul’s family has not had any updates about her health since she went on her hunger strike on October 26, her sister Lina told the BBC. She faces charges of having contacts with foreign diplomats, media, and activist groups. “The only just outcome for this trial would be the immediate and unconditional release of Loujain al-Hathloul. She is not a criminal – she is a human rights defender who is being punished simply for daring to advocate for change,” Amnesty International’s deputy regional director for the Middle East and North Africa, Lynn Maalouf, said in a statement.