Saudi activist Loujain al-Hathloul jailed for five years Photograph:( Reuters )
Loujain al-Hathloul was detained by the local authorities in May 2018 with several other women activists while she was campaigning for women's rights
A Saudi-origin women's rights activist, Loujain al-Hathloul, has been jailed for five years and eight months for participating in terrorism-related activities and crimes after she was arrested in May 2018.
The prominent activist was convicted of "various activities prohibited by the anti-terrorism law", the local media, including the pro-government media outlet Sabq, reported on Monday.
Hathloul's jail time was ordered by a Saudi court on Monday in presence of a few selected local media outlets. The activist can have her sentence reduced by two years and ten months "if she does not commit any crime" within the next three years. However, it is not yet clear of the ruling was decided for the time she will be serving or when she may be released from custody.
The activist also has the option of file a motion to appeal within the next 30 days.
Hathloul was detained by the local authorities in May 2018 with several other women activists while she was campaigning for women's rights. Her arrest was made a few days before the Saudi court made a historic ruling of allowing Saudi women to drive.
The 31-year-old was being tried Riyadh's criminal court. Her case was then transferred to the anti-terrorism court (Specialised Criminal Court). The supporters of Hathloul feel this move was a deliberate effort of the government to make sure the activist gets a confirmed jail time, and they alleged the SCC is used by the government to silence all anti-government voices.
The government, however, alleged that Hathloul was guilty of contacting "unfriendly" states and providing classified information to them. However, these accusations have been denied by Hathloul's family who have instead accused the government of making statements without providing any evidence.
Her sentence comes almost a year after Hathloul started a hunger strike in the prison with the demand of being provided regular contact with her family. Her family claims she had to end the strike within two weeks due to the torture she was facing from the prison guards. "She was being woken up by the guards every two hours, day and night, as a brutal tactic to break her," her siblings said. "Yet, she is far from broken."