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Saudi Court Sentences Loujain Al-Hathloul to 5 years and 8 months Prison
By Staff, Agencies
A Saudi court on Monday sentenced prominent women's rights activist Loujain al-Hathloul to five years and eight months in prison, local media reported, in a trial that has drawn international condemnation.
Hathloul, 31, has been held since 2018 following her arrest along with at least a dozen other women's rights activist.
The verdict, reported by Sabq and al-Shark al-Awsat newspapers, poses an early challenge to Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman's relationship with US President-elect Joe Biden, who has described Riyadh as a "pariah" for its human rights record.
Hathloul was charged with seeking to change the Saudi political system and harming national security, local media said. The court suspended two years and 10 months of her sentence, or time served since Hathloul was arrested on May 15, 2018, the newspapers said.
United Nations human rights experts have called the charges against her spurious, and along with leading rights groups and lawmakers in the United States and Europe have called for her release.
The detentions of women activists occurred shortly before and after the kingdom lifted a ban on women driving.
Hathloul's sentencing came just nearly three weeks after a Riyadh court jailed U.S.-Saudi physician Walid al-Fitaihi for six years, despite pressure to release him, in a case rights groups have called politically motivated.
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