“Now we want real justice,” say sisters of freed Saudi rights activist al-Hathloul

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DUBAI – The sisters of prominent Saudi women’s rights activist Loujain al-Hathloul said on Thursday they wanted real justice for her, the day after she was released from prison.

Hathloul, 31, has campaigned for women’s right to drive and to end Saudi’s male guardianship system. She spent nearly three years behind bars in a case that drew international condemnation, and remains forbidden to leave Saudi Arabia for the next five years.

“What we want now is real justice,” Lina al-Hathloul told an online news conference. “That Loujain is completely, unconditionally free.”

She said her sister was determined to fight the travel ban, and that their parents were also banned from leaving the country.

“She is very determined to use all means that exist within the legal framework in Saudi Arabia to exhaust all the possibilities in order to obtain her rights,” said another sister, Alia.

She said Loujain was now at their parents’ home, and the family were overjoyed to have her back with them.

Lina tweeted a picture of Loujain, smiling but thinner than before, with a new grey streak in her hair.

Loujain al-Hathloul had been was arrested in March 2018 in the United Arab Emirates, where she was studying, and flown back to Saudi Arabia against her will.

She was sentenced last December to nearly six years in prison under broad counter-terrorism laws, for activities including calling for an end to male guardianship and communicating with global rights groups, activists, foreign diplomats and international media. U.N. rights experts said the charges were spurious.

The court gave her a three-year custodial sentence, most of which she served, plus another two years and 10 months suspended.

Rights groups and her family say Hathloul was subjected to abuse in prison, including electric shocks, waterboarding, flogging and sexual assault.

Saudi authorities have denied the accusations and an appeals court dismissed the torture claims on Tuesday, citing a lack of evidence, her family said.

Saudi officials have not commented publicly on Hathloul’s conviction, sentencing or release.

Reuters

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