Breaking News
Ad-Free Version. Upgrade your experience. Save up to 40% More details

"Now we want real justice," say sisters of freed Saudi rights activist Hathloul

WorldFeb 12, 2021 09:32AM ET
Saved. See Saved Items.
This article has already been saved in your Saved Items
2/2 © Reuters. Women's rights activist Loujain al-Hathloul poses at home 2/2

By Raya Jalabi

DUBAI (Reuters) - The sisters of prominent Saudi women's rights activist Loujain al-Hathloul said on Thursday they wanted real justice for her, and the lifting of a travel ban, the day after she was released from prison on a suspended sentence.

Hathloul, 31, has campaigned for women's right to drive and to end Saudi's male guardianship system. She spent nearly three years behind bars in a case that drew international condemnation, and remains forbidden to leave Saudi Arabia for five years.

Rights groups and her family say Hathloul was subjected in prison to electric shocks, waterboarding, flogging and sexual assault - accusations that Saudi Arabia denies.

"What we want now is real justice," Lina al-Hathloul told an online news conference, speaking from Brussels. "That Loujain is completely, unconditionally free."

She said her sister would fight the travel ban, and that their parents were also unable to leave the country.

Another sister, Alia, said Hathloul was now at the home of their parents, who were overjoyed to have her back. The first thing Hathloul did after speaking to her siblings, they said, was to go to the supermarket for ice cream.

Lina tweeted a picture of Hathloul on Wednesday, smiling but thinner than before, with a new grey streak in her hair.

The sisters said she had lost weight from the hunger strikes she had staged to protest against her prison conditions.

"She's very strong," said Alia, who also lives in Brussels. "I'm so proud of her ability to keep high hopes, to be very positive and to say 'OK, I went through horrible things - but life continues'."

Loujain al-Hathloul was arrested in March 2018 in the United Arab Emirates, where she was studying, and flown back to Saudi Arabia against her will.

She was one of at least a dozen women's rights activists who were arrested as Saudi Arabia ended a ban on women driving cars, at least two of whom are still in prison, human rights sources said.


She was given a sentence of five years and eight months last December under broad cybercrime and terrorism laws, for activities including calling for an end to male guardianship and communicating with global rights groups, activists, foreign diplomats and international media. U.N. rights experts said the charges were spurious.

Hathloul served most of the custodial half of her sentence, which is suspended for a further two years and 10 months.

"She is very determined to use all means that exist within the legal framework in Saudi Arabia ... in order to obtain her rights," Alia said. "She was tortured and she cannot forget this very dramatic period in her life."

Loujain told her siblings that she had not initially mentioned the torture during phone calls from prison because guards had held an "electroshock device" to her ear and threatened to use it if she mentioned her treatment.

An appeals court dismissed the torture claims on Tuesday, citing a lack of evidence, her family said.

In a written statement on Thursday, the government's media office said Hathloul had failed to accuse any specific person of torture or provide evidence, and that both a lower court and a court of appeal had therefore found that "the validity of the case was not proven".

The office said Saudi laws "prohibit torture in all its forms" and require punishment for those found guilty.

Asked whether Loujain would continue her activism, her sisters said her release was conditional, but that they could not elaborate.

Since her charge sheet, which the family made public last year, referred to her social media posts, she risked violating the terms of her release if she posted online again, Lina said.

The sisters were unsure if they are under a travel ban themselves, and said they would not yet risk returning to Saudi Arabia.

"Now we want real justice," say sisters of freed Saudi rights activist Hathloul

Related Articles

Iran says Natanz nuclear site hit by terrorism - TV
Iran says Natanz nuclear site hit by terrorism - TV By Reuters - Apr 11, 2021 8

By Parisa Hafezi DUBAI (Reuters) -An incident at Iran's Natanz nuclear facility on Sunday was caused by an act of "nuclear terrorism", the country's nuclear chief Ali Akbar Salehi...

Add a Comment

Comment Guidelines

We encourage you to use comments to engage with users, share your perspective and ask questions of authors and each other. However, in order to maintain the high level of discourse we’ve all come to value and expect, please keep the following criteria in mind: 

  • Enrich the conversation
  • Stay focused and on track. Only post material that’s relevant to the topic being discussed.
  • Be respectful. Even negative opinions can be framed positively and diplomatically.
  •  Use standard writing style. Include punctuation and upper and lower cases.
  • NOTE: Spam and/or promotional messages and links within a comment will be removed
  • Avoid profanity, slander or personal attacks directed at an author or another user.
  • Don’t Monopolize the Conversation. We appreciate passion and conviction, but we also believe strongly in giving everyone a chance to air their thoughts. Therefore, in addition to civil interaction, we expect commenters to offer their opinions succinctly and thoughtfully, but not so repeatedly that others are annoyed or offended. If we receive complaints about individuals who take over a thread or forum, we reserve the right to ban them from the site, without recourse.
  • Only English comments will be allowed.

Perpetrators of spam or abuse will be deleted from the site and prohibited from future registration at’s discretion.

Write your thoughts here
Are you sure you want to delete this chart?
Post also to:
Replace the attached chart with a new chart ?
Your ability to comment is currently suspended due to negative user reports. Your status will be reviewed by our moderators.
Please wait a minute before you try to comment again.
Thanks for your comment. Please note that all comments are pending until approved by our moderators. It may therefore take some time before it appears on our website.
Are you sure you want to delete this chart?
Replace the attached chart with a new chart ?
Your ability to comment is currently suspended due to negative user reports. Your status will be reviewed by our moderators.
Please wait a minute before you try to comment again.
Add Chart to Comment
Confirm Block

Are you sure you want to block %USER_NAME%?

By doing so, you and %USER_NAME% will not be able to see any of each other's's posts.

%USER_NAME% was successfully added to your Block List

Since you’ve just unblocked this person, you must wait 48 hours before renewing the block.

Report this comment

I feel that this comment is:

Comment flagged

Thank You!

Your report has been sent to our moderators for review
Disclaimer: Fusion Media would like to remind you that the data contained in this website is not necessarily real-time nor accurate. All CFDs (stocks, indexes, futures) and Forex prices are not provided by exchanges but rather by market makers, and so prices may not be accurate and may differ from the actual market price, meaning prices are indicative and not appropriate for trading purposes. Therefore Fusion Media doesn`t bear any responsibility for any trading losses you might incur as a result of using this data.

Fusion Media or anyone involved with Fusion Media will not accept any liability for loss or damage as a result of reliance on the information including data, quotes, charts and buy/sell signals contained within this website. Please be fully informed regarding the risks and costs associated with trading the financial markets, it is one of the riskiest investment forms possible.
Continue with Google
Sign up with Email