RIAD (dpa-AFX) – The women’s rights activist Ludschain al-Hathlul, who was imprisoned in Saudi Arabia, was tried for the first time in a terrorist court. Al-Hathlul’s siblings announced on Twitter on Friday evening that a slightly modified indictment had been presented to her at Thursday’s meeting without her having been informed.
In the document published by Al-Hathlul’s supporters, the 31-year-old is accused, among other things, of inciting a riot and calling for a change in the political system in the kingdom. She is also charged with attending conferences on Saudi women and communicating with “renegades” and “terrorists”.
Al-Hathlul is one of the internationally best-known activists who are imprisoned in the authoritarian kingdom. She was arrested along with other human rights activists in May 2018. She started a hunger strike at the end of October to protest her detention conditions and the lack of contact with her family. Her siblings said Al-Hathlul was severely tortured while in detention. The government in Riyadh denies this.
Al-Hathlul first had to answer to a criminal court in Saudi Arabia. However, the proceedings were suspended for months. According to her family, the criminal court referred the case to a terrorist court in late November because it had no jurisdiction.
In the past, the activist had campaigned for the end of the ban on women driving in Saudi Arabia, which was lifted in 2018. Under the leadership of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the ultra-conservative kingdom has passed numerous reforms that open up the country and give women more rights. At the same time, however, the government is cracking down on critics.
Human rights activists accuse the Saudi royal house of only pretending to be willing to reform. You see in Crown Prince Mohammed the mastermind behind the brutal murder of the journalist Jamal Khashoggi, who is critical of the government, in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul./jku/DP/zb