Saudi Arabia prepares to prosecute women’s rights activists
Jon Sharman. The Independent•March 1, 2019
Saudi Arabia is moving to prosecute a group of women’s rights activists who have been detained for several months, its state news agency has announced.
The kingdom’s public prosecutor is thought to be preparing the trials of nine people arrested in June last year on suspicion of harming the country’s interests and offering support to hostile elements abroad.
The group comprised five men and four women.
At the time of their detention international rights groups reported that at least 11 prominent activists, mostly women, had been arrested.
They had previously campaigned for the right to drive and an end to the kingdom’s male guardianship system.
Some were later released, but activists have said that several of the women were held in solitary confinement for months and faced torture and sexual harassment.
A Saudi official has said the allegations of mistreatment and torture of the female detainees were “false … And have no connection to the truth”.
Dozens of other activists, intellectuals and clerics have been arrested separately in an apparent bid to stamp out opposition to Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who has consolidated power including with a sweeping anti-corruption campaign.
It comes shortly after Jared Kushner, Donald Trump’s son-in-law who has been tasked with implementing a Middle East peace plan, met with Mr Bin Salman during a series of engagements with regional leaders.
Jeremy Hunt, the UK’s foreign secretary, was due to meet Saudi officials at the weekend to pursue a diplomatic solution to the war in Yemen.
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