Women’s rights activist Loujain al-Hathloul released from prison



Saudi women’s rights activist Loujain al-Hathloul

Madelyn Woolfrey, Staff Member

Loujain al-Hathloul is a women’s rights activist from Saudi Arabi. Hathloul, at the age of 31, was arrested in May 2018. Hathloul was arrested in a sweep that targeted well known opponents of the banning of women’s rights to drive. Last December, Riyadh’s specialized Criminal Court sentenced Hathloul to five years and eight months in prison including a two year and 10-month suspension. The terrorism court convicted Hathloul on the charges of harming national security, seeking to change the Saudi political system, and using her relations with foreign governments and rights groups to “pressure the Kingdom to change its laws and systems.” according to a charge sheet published by her family in December.

Hathloul was released on Wednesday February 10, 2021. Hathloul’s siblings who were the main campaigners for her release posted a picture to twitter on Wednesday. Hathloul’s sister, Lina al-Hathloul, captioned the picture “The Loujain Hathloul at home after 1001 days in prison.” Hathloul will remain on probation for three years after her release. She will also be banned from traveling for five years. During Hathloul’ time in prison she recounts the times she was tortured and sexually abused. Hathloul’s brother, Walid al-Hathloul, told CNN before the announcement of her release, “We would have to work very hard to secure justice for Loujain, but we’re very delighted for this news.” 

Saudi authorities have repeatedly denied allegations of torture and sexual abuse. During Hathloul time in prison she received multiple awards for her activism, including the 2019 PEN America award. Though even now with Hathloul’s release her family urges people not to claim she is free. “Any release that does not include an independent investigation of the charges, does not include lifting the travel ban, does not include dropping the charges, is not freedom,” noted Walid al-Hathloul. Hathloul’s release from prison is not the end of her fight for justice not just for herself but for all women. Hathloul’s family has made it very clear that they want justice for Hathloul’s wrongful imprisonment and everything she went through because of it.