Saudi women's rights activist Loujain al-Hathloul 'offered freedom in return for silence', sister says

Saudi women's rights activist Loujain al-Hathloul 'offered freedom in return for silence', sister says
The sister of imprisoned women's rights activist Loujain al-Hathloul has said the Saudi authorities offered to free her if she kept silent about her alleged torture.
2 min read
13 August, 2019
Loujain al-Hathloul was detained last year [Facebook]

The sister of a detained Saudi women's rights activist has claimed the activist has been offered a plea deal: deny alleged torture and she will be set free after more than a year in prison.

Lina al-Hathloul, the Belgium-based sibling of imprisoned Saudi activist Loujain al-Hathloul, said on Tuesday that the deal to "deny the torture" had been "proposed" to her sister.

Hathloul, a prominent activist for Saudi women's right to drive and other rights issues, was swept up in a crackdown on dissenters in May last year.

She is among ten other women activists detained and subject to an ongoing trial in the ultraconservative kingdom.

The arrests of Hathloul and other prominent campaigners for Saudi women's right to drive came just weeks before a longtime ban on the practice was officially lifted.

Hathloul's siblings, all based outside of Saudi Arabia, have been vocal activists for their sister.

One of their main claims about Hathloul's treatment is that the longtime women's rights campaigner has been tortured and sexually harassed while in prison.

Read more: Kidnapped, imprisoned, tortured: How the Saudi regime wanted to silence women's rights activist Loujain al-Hathloul

Human rights organisations including Amnesty International have also alleged that Hathloul and other women campaigners have been subjected to torture and sexual harassment, including threats of rape, while in detention.

"Idk [I don't know] what I'm risking by writing this," Lina wrote in a tweet.

"Maybe it will harm my sister too," she said, describing the terms of the deal as "deny the torture and she'll be free" without specifying when or how many times the offer had been proposed.

"Whatever happens I am certifying it 1 more time:Loujain has been brutally tortured and sexually harassed," Lina said.

In the wake of Saudi Arabia announcing new travel laws regarding women, Amnesty called on the country earlier this month to "show the world it is truly serious about improving the rights of women" by releasing the women activists.