Middle EastNews

Jailed Saudi Feminist Told to Deny Torture in “Release Deal”

The prominent Saudi women’s rights activist Loujain al-Hathloul has rejected a proposal to secure her release from prison in exchange for a video statement denying reports she was tortured in custody, her family said.

“The Saudi state security has visited my sister in prison recently. They have asked her to … appear on video to deny the torture and harassment,” her brother Walid al-Hathloul  tweeted on Tuesday. “That was part of a deal to release her.”

There was no immediate reaction from Saudi authorities.

Hathloul’s siblings allege that Saud al-Qahtani, at the time a senior adviser to Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who has also been implicated in Khashoggi’s murder, was present during some of the torture sessions and threatened to rape and kill her.

The Saudi public prosecutor has said his office investigated the allegations and concluded they were false. Some of the charges against the women fall under the kingdom’s cybercrime law, which stipulates prison sentences of up to five years, according to rights groups.

Hathloul, who recently marked her 30th birthday in jail, is among around a dozen prominent female activists who are currently facing trial related to human rights work and contacts with foreign journalists and diplomats, after being detained last year.

The case has drawn global criticism and provoked anger in European capitals and the US Congress after the journalist Jamal Khashoggi was murdered by Saudi agents inside the kingdom’s Istanbul consulate last year.

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