Saudi Arabia summons its most prominent female activist after release

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
In this 2017 file photo, Loujain al-Hathloul poses for a photo in Amsterdam, the Netherlands. (Via AP)

Saudi Arabia's most prominent female activist Loujain al-Hathloul has been summoned by security officials, three months after her release, relatives say.

According to the Associated Press, Loujain al-Hathloul was informed on Sunday of a supreme court decision that ultimately upholds her initial conviction.

In May 2018, Hathloul and more than a dozen activists were arrested as part of a sweeping crackdown on activists who pushed for greater women’s rights and an end to a ban on female drivers.

Al-Hathloul was sentenced to five years and eight months with conditional release last December.

She was released on February 10 after about three years in prison where she was tortured and sexually harassed. She is still under probation and is barred from leaving Saudi Arabia.

Her sister, Alia al-Hathloul, told AP on Sunday that she was asked to report to the office of the Interior Ministry’s General Directorate of Investigation, or “mabaheth”, in the capital Riyadh. The reason she received a summon was not immediately known.

Later on Sunday, her relatives told AP and her sister, Lina al-Hathloul, confirmed on Twitter that she’d been called in to sign a document informing her of a supreme court decision to uphold the ruling of an appeals' court, which had upheld her initial conviction.

They questioned why she was informed of the legal ruling by a security agency.

The latest development comes as al-Hathloul has recently shared posts about a women's rights campaign against sexual harassment in Kuwait, and waded into the recent normalization of relations between some Arab regimes and Israel.

She also wrote that many of her Saudi friends have stopped tweeting altogether.

“When is this nightmare going to end?,” she said in a tweet, adding “I WANT my friends back!”

Saudi authorities have arrested dozens of activists, bloggers, intellectuals and others perceived as political opponents ever since Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman became Saudi Arabia’s de facto leader in 2017, showing almost zero tolerance for dissent even in the face of international condemnations of the clampdown.           

Over the past years, Riyadh has also redefined its anti-terrorism laws to target activism.

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