Women’s rights activist Loujain Alhathloul released after 1,001 days in Saudi prison | CBC News

Saudi activist Loujain Alhathloul has been released from detention in Saudi Arabia, where she had been held since May 2018.

Alhathloul’s sister confirmed her release on Wednesday. 

Alhathloul, 31, a graduate of the University of British Columbia and an internationally recognized activist born in Saudi Arabia, was sentenced to six years in prison under a vague and broadly worded law aimed at combating terrorism. The judge in the case suspended part of her sentence and gave her credit for time already served.

Alhathloul was first detained in May 2018 along with nine prominent human rights activists in Saudi Arabia.

Her imprisonment for the past two and a half years drew international criticism from rights groups, the Canadian government and American lawmakers.

Alhathloul was known for calling for the right to drive before it was granted in 2018 and for the removal of male guardianship laws that had long stifled women’s freedom of movement and ability to travel abroad.

Since she was imprisoned, she told her family she had been held in solitary confinement and suffered electrocution, flogging and sexual assault. She had also gone on hunger strikes multiple times as the COVID-19 pandemic indefinitely delayed her trial over the summer.

Front Burner25:34A prominent Saudi activist’s detention and sudden silence

Loujain Alhathloul, a Saudi women’s rights activist who studied in Canada, has been imprisoned for the past two years. And now, her family, who used to be able to talk to her regularly, hasn’t heard from her in seven weeks. Today, the CBC’s Michelle Ghoussoub joins us to talk about how Alhathloul became one of the most prominent faces in the struggle for women’s rights in Saudi Arabia, what her continued detention says about social reforms under the Saudi regime, and what her family thinks her silence means. 25:34

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