Saudi Arabia: Loujain al-Hathloul must be unconditionally released

Responding to reports that human rights defender Loujain al-Hathloul will stand trial in Saudi Arabia tomorrow, Amnesty International’s Deputy Regional Director for the Middle East and North Africa, Lynn Maalouf, said:

“The only just outcome for this trial would be the immediate and unconditional release of Loujain al-Hathloul. She is not a criminal – she is a human rights defender who is being punished simply for daring to advocate for change.

“Loujain al-Hathloul has been on hunger strike since 26 October, in protest at being denied regular contact with her family. She has been held incommunicado and denied access to a lawyer, not to mention having barely one day’s notice ahead of the trial session, leaving therefore no room for adequately preparing a defense. Also, in light of the women rights activists reporting having been tortured or otherwise ill-treated in detention, we also have concerns about the admissibility of any ‘evidence’ that might be submitted in court tomorrow.

“We reiterate our call for Loujain al-Hathloul’s immediate and unconditional release, and the dropping of all charges against her. In the interim, we call on the Saudi authorities to allow diplomats and journalists to attend the trial tomorrow, physically or virtually, to ensure she is allowed to be treated by a doctor of her choice, and allow her proper access to her lawyer and family.”