The family of Loujain al Hathloul has told media outlets that they were informed late on Wednesday (09/12/2020) night that she would appear at Saudi Arabia’s Specialised Criminal Court for a trial which United Nations Human Rights experts have described as “alarming”.
Loujain al Hathoul was among a group of female rights activists arrested without clear explanation in May 2018, weeks before Saudi Arabia lifted the female driving ban.
News of her trial comes as her sister detailed devastating allegations – denied by the Saudi authorities – of sexual abuse and torture.
“We are extremely alarmed to hear that Ms al-Hathloul, who has been in detention for more than two years on spurious charges, is now being tried by a specialised terrorism court for exercising her fundamental rights to freedom of expression, peaceful assembly and association,” said Elizabeth Broderick, the chair of the UN working group on discrimination against women and girls.
At a brief hearing in an ordinary court last month, when the case was referred to the terrorism court, relatives said Hathloul looked unwell, shaking and speaking in a weak voice as she read out her four-page defence.
Al-Hathloul was accused of breaching article 6 of the Anti-Cybercrime Law, which punishes the production and transmission of material deemed to impinge on public order, religious values, public morals, and private life.
The Saudi authorities claimed in the charges they were based on allegations that Al-Hathloul along with other defenders “communicated with people and entities hostile to the King.”