A Thousand and One Nights in Jail: Saudi's Most Famous Human Rights Activist Is Released, but Is She Free Yet?

Published February 11th, 2021 - 07:28 GMT
A Thousand and One Nights in Jail: Saudi's Most Famous Human Rights Activist Is Released, but Is She Free Yet?
Lojain was abducted while in the UAE before she was forcibly taken to Saudi Arabia in the spring of 2018. (Twitter: LinaAlhathloul)

After 1001 days in a Saudi jail, Saudi human rights activist Loujain Al-Hathloul has finally been released last night, according to her family members.

Posting photos of their sister after almost three years in Saudi jails, siblings of 31-year-old Loujain Al-Hathloul have celebrated the long-called for release last night. News of Loujain's release sparked thousands of celebratory tweets across social media, including statements by American and European officials, including the US president Joe Biden.

Lojain had been accused of cooperation with international NGOs and foreign journalists and diplomats. Al-Hathloul, who had been living in the UAE at the time she was kidnapped and jailed, had been known for her activism for women's rights in the conservative kingdom.

In 2014, Lojain was briefly in prison over her decision to challenge the government imposed driving-ban on women, which ended in June 2019, nearly a year after her last arrest.

Over the last three years, the international community has repeatedly expressed concerns over reports by Al-Hathloul's familiy over being tortured while in prison, ones that were first revealed by her Europe-based sister during an interview with France24 in May 2019.

However, Loujain's siblings living abroad have called on people concerned with her case; including journalists and officials to not refer to her release as "freeing" her, saying that continues to be under a strict travel ban along with her parents, who have been banned from travel ever since she was arrested.

Meanwhile, Saudi has reportedly released three other women activists; Nassima Al-Sadah, Nouf Abdelaziz, and Maya Al-Zahrani. Yet, LojainAl-Hathloul has dominated the news over the last several years as a result of her family's continuous calls on international organizations to pressure the Saudi government into releasing her.

Translation: "By Lojain Al-Hathloul's release, everyone who was arrested in May 2018 has been released except Mohammed Al-Rabiah, who I hope gets freed as soon as possible."

While celebrating the news, many social media users highlighted names of other prominent Saudi human rights activists, who continue to be in jail, calling on the world to not forget them and to exert similar pressure on the Saudi government until they are released.

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