Sources: 3 Saudi rights activists temporarily released


DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — Three Saudi women’s rights activists have been temporarily released after 10 months in prison, sources familiar with their cases told The Associated Press on Thursday.

Two people told the AP that Aziza al-Yousef, a grandmother and former professor; Eman al-Nafjan, a mother of four and linguistics professor, and a third woman were released and at least one of the women was already home with her family.

Loujain al-Hathloul, another outspoken rights activist, was not among the three.

Thursday marked the first time the three women have been released from detention since May of last year.

The releases came a day after nearly a dozen Saudi women’s rights activists appeared before a three-judge panel in a Riyadh courtroom and laid out their defense. They also spoke of physical and sexual abuse they say they were subjected to by masked interrogators.

Eric Trump Schools Judge Who Says His Father Inflated Value of Mar-a-Lago: 'Laughing at This Foolishness'

Their arrests came a few weeks before Saudi women were granted the right to drive and were seen as a way for Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to take full credit for reforms that the women had long pushed for, and as a message to Saudis that the women’s rights activism did not lead to change.

The women, who appeared Wednesday in their second court session since the arrests in May, had long pushed for the right to drive and called for an end to restrictive male guardianship laws. The laws require women of all ages to have a male relative’s consent to travel abroad, obtain a passport, marry or undergo certain medical procedures.

Several people with knowledge of the cases have said the charges against the women relate to their efforts to promote women’s rights and having contact with accredited foreign reporters, diplomats and human rights groups.

On Wednesday, the women sat next to their relatives in Riyadh’s criminal court as they addressed the presiding judge who sat before them, according to details provided to the AP.

One of the women told the panel of three judges that several men, who seemed intoxicated, appeared late one night and took her from her place of detention in Jiddah to a nearby secret location.

There, the women have said they were caned on their backs and thighs, electrocuted and waterboarded by masked men who did not identify themselves. Some women say they were forcibly touched and groped, made to break their fast during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, and threatened with rape and death. One of the women attempted suicide.

Journalists working for foreign media, diplomats and other independent observers have not been allowed to sit-in on the hearings.

The Western Journal has not reviewed this Associated Press story prior to publication. Therefore, it may contain editorial bias or may in some other way not meet our normal editorial standards. It is provided to our readers as a service from The Western Journal.

Truth and Accuracy

Submit a Correction →

We are committed to truth and accuracy in all of our journalism. Read our editorial standards.

The Associated Press is an independent, not-for-profit news cooperative headquartered in New York City. Their teams in over 100 countries tell the world’s stories, from breaking news to investigative reporting. They provide content and services to help engage audiences worldwide, working with companies of all types, from broadcasters to brands. Photo credit: @AP on Twitter
The Associated Press was the first private sector organization in the U.S. to operate on a national scale. Over the past 170 years, they have been first to inform the world of many of history's most important moments, from the assassination of Abraham Lincoln and the bombing of Pearl Harbor to the fall of the Shah of Iran and the death of Pope John Paul.

Today, they operate in 263 locations in more than 100 countries relaying breaking news, covering war and conflict and producing enterprise reports that tell the world's stories.
New York City