The family of a leading Saudi women’s rights activist has condemned a decision by the state prosecutor’s office to sentence a jailed preacher to a maximum of 20 years in prison.
Luizain al-Hathalal, who successfully campaigned for Saudi women to have the right to drive, has been tortured in prison and has recently begun a hunger strike over her prison terms.
His younger sister, Lina Al-Hathlal, said Freedom During a court hearing on Thursday, Lozain and their father were informed of a secret report of his torture, despite the government’s denial of torture allegations.
He added: “My sister must be released. He should be praised as a hero, instead, he has been imprisoned and tortured. In the two-and-a-half years since his arrest, he has endured beatings, sexual harassment, starvation and solitary confinement.
“All my sisters have done is treat women with dignity and freedom so that they should have rights. For that, the Saudi authorities want the maximum punishment under the law – 20 years in prison.
According to the family of the Nobel Prize-winning activist, the judge in the terrorism court on Wednesday said the verdict in the Luzine case would be handed down on Monday.
But they say they were sent a text message an hour after they were summoned to the criminal court on Thursday, but are still unsure what the development means.
Preachers were shocked last month when Luzin’s case was transferred from a criminal court to a terrorism court.
Human rights groups say Luzine, a British Columbia University graduate, has been subjected to torture, electric shocks, floggings and sexual harassment while in prison.
She was arrested in Saudi Arabia in May 2018, along with 10 women’s rights activists – just a week before the state lifted the driving ban.
Heba Morayev, Amnesty International’s Regional Director for the Middle East and North Africa Freedom The decision to impose the maximum sentence on Luzain highlights the “relentless brutality of the Saudi authorities.”
He added: “Luzain al-Hathlul is a courageous defender of women’s rights who should not have been detained for a single day. Her peaceful activism has brought about a moment of social change in Saudi Arabia.”
Kate Allen, director of the UK branch of a leading human rights group, said she was concerned that Saudi prosecutors had sought a maximum sentence for the 31-year-old to drop all charges against him.
He added: “The only real outcome of this trial is his immediate and unconditional release.”
Luzain is awaiting trial on charges of contacting Saudi hostile foreign agencies, recruiting government employees to gather confidential information, and financing foreign entities who are anti-state. Saudi officials have denied the allegations and said they were investigating allegations of abuse.
Lucy Roy, a spokeswoman for the human rights charity Grant Liberty, said: “A government that is deeply undermining women’s activism as a form of terrorism.
“This trial is shameful, its continued imprisonment tarnishes the conscience of the world. And through these ridiculous charades, Jamal Khashoggi’s assassins are forcing Luzain’s health away.
A recent report claims that imprisoned women rights activists and political prisoners have been sexually abused, tortured and held in Saudi prisons. Grant Liberty, who conducted the report, shared it exclusively Freedom Last month, Mohammed bin Salman accused 309 political prisoners of human rights abuses since he became the state’s crown prince in 2017.