A prominent Saudi women's rights activist was released from jail after more than 1,000 days in detention

  • Loujain al-Hathloul, a prominent Saudi women’s rights activist, has been released from jail.
  • Al-Hathloul was detained in May 2018. In prison, her sister Lina said al-Hathloul had been tortured and sexually harassed.
  • Prior to her arrest, Al-Hathloul was known as a vocal advocate for a Saudi woman’s right to drive.
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Saudi Arabia has released Loujain al-Hathloul, a prominent women’s rights activist, from custody, according to her two siblings who posted the news to Twitter on Wednesday.

“Loujain is at home,” her sister Lina wrote.

“Loujain is out. Loujain is free!” her brother Walid said in a tweet.

Lina and Walid did not immediately respond to Insider’s requests for additional comment.

Up until her release, al-Hathloul, 31, had been imprisoned for about three years.

She was detained in May 2018, after she and other women activists had advocated for years for Saudi women to be granted the right to drive. The Saudi government at the time of al-Hathloul’s arrest had already been preparing to lift the driving ban for women.

In August 2019, about a year after her arrest, al-Hathloul’s family said she had been offered a deal for freedom, which stipulated that she deny she was ever tortured and sexually harassed while in custody in exchange for her freedom.

Her family said al-Hathloul refused the deal.

“Idk what I’m risking by writing this. Maybe it will harm my sister too. But I can’t keep it to myself,” her sister Lina wrote in a tweet in August 2019. “Loujain has been proposed a deal : deny the torture and she’ll be free. Whatever happens I am certifying it 1 more time: Loujain has been brutally tortured and sexually harassed.”

In the months following news of the deal, human-rights groups published reports that said women activists who were arrested had been tortured through floggings, whippings, and electrocutions.

Amnesty International also pointed to three testimonies that alleged women activists jailed in the country’s Dhahban prison experienced sexual harassment at the hands of masked interrogators while in custody. These women experienced unwanted hugging and kissing, at least two human-rights reports said. The torture these women experienced, according to the Amnesty report, left some unable to walk or stand.

Saudi Arabia in July 2018 — just weeks after al-Hathloul’s arrest — ended its ban on women driving.

Al-Hathloul will be on probation for the next three years, CNN reported. During this time, she can be arrested for “perceived illegal activity,” according to CNN. Al-Hathloul is also not permitted to travel for the next five years.

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