Detained Saudi women rights activists could face death penalty, warns pro-government newspaper
Eight recently arrested Saudi women's rights advocates could face the death penalty for allegedly conspiring against the kingdom, pro-government Okaz has reported.
The Saudi daily on Sunday outlined the punishments that could be handed down to the detained activists, citing lawyers and legal experts.
"If the charge of recruiting people in sensitive government positions is proven the sentence ranges from 3 to 20 years in prison," the report said.
"If the investigations result in charges of treason and conspiring against the state… the punishment could be the death penalty,"
The report added that the law does not "distinguish between man or woman in such cases".
The Interior Ministry on Saturday did not name those arrested, but said the group is being investigated for communicating with "foreign entities".
The ministry also accused the activists of working to recruit people in sensitive government positions and providing money to foreign circles with the aim of destabilising and harming the kingdom.
Pro-government media outlets have accused the eight activists of betrayal and of being traitors.
The news sites have carried images of five of those detained: Loujain al-Hathloul, Aziza al-Yousef, Eman al-Nafjan, Mohammed al-Rabiya and lawyer Ibrahim al-Madmyegh.
The activists had persistently called for an end to the women driving ban and stressed this was only a first step toward equality.
Part of their demands have included scrapping the guardianship system that gives men final say over whether a woman can marry, travel or get a passport.
The arrests come just six weeks before Saudi Arabia is set to lift the world's only ban on women driving next month.
Human Rights Watch has strongly condemned the arrests and demanded the release of the activists.