A Saudi court has sentenced a women’s rights activist to five years in prison. Prominent human rights activist Laujain al-Hathlaul was sentenced to five years and eight months in prison on Monday.
sentence had been suspended for two years and ten months, her sister Lina al-Hathloul said on Twitter. When added to the time she has already served in detention since her arrest in May 2018, she may be released in two months, according to her sister.
Lina Al-Hathloul tweeted that her sister was also subject to a five-year travel ban and that the public prosecutor and Al-Hathloul could both still appeal. NBC News could not independently verify all the details of Al-Hathloul’s sentencing.
A spokesperson for Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Media confirmed Al-Hathloul’s sentence was for five years and eight months, two years and 10 months of which had been suspended, but could not immediately confirm if the sentence would be backdated to May 2018.
oujain Al-Hathloul, 31, rose to prominence for openly calling for women to be given the right to drive and for an end to Saudi Arabia’s restrictive male guardianship system that had long limited women’s freedom of movement. She was arrested along with several other female activists in May 2018, just weeks before the kingdom ended a decades-long ban on women driving.
Rights groups including Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch said that some of the women detained, including Al-Hathloul, reported having faced abuses while imprisoned, including electric shocks, whippings and sexual assault. Saudi Arabia has denied the allegations.
Human Rights Watch said prosecutors charged Al-Hathloul in 2019 with offenses related to her human rights advocacy, before later amending her charge sheet and transferring her case in late November to the country’s notorious Specialized Criminal Court, which specializes in handling terrorism cases.
Other dissidents, including cleric Salman al-Awda, who called on the country’s rulers to be more responsive to the population’s desires for reform, have also stood trial in the kingdom’s anti-terror court.