A picture of Manahel wearing a green short sleeve shirt and yoga pants. Her hair is in a ponytail and she appears to have taken the photo in a gym.

Support Saudi Woman Detained Over Tweets

Saudi authorities detained 29-year-old Manahel al-Otaibi on November 16, 2022, for her tweets supporting women’s rights. Since November 2023, her whereabouts are unknown, and she faces charges under strict cybercrime laws. Her trial by the Specialized Criminal Court (SCC), known for unfair practices, raises serious concerns. We demand her immediate release and a stop to the misuse of laws against peaceful activists.

Here’s what you can do:

Write to the Saudi Minister of Justice urging him to:

  • Ensure the immediate and unconditional release of Manahel al-Otaibi.
  • Disclose Manahel al-Otaibi’s current location to her family and the public.
  • Consider reform of laws that criminalize peaceful dissent, aligning them with international human rights standards.
  • Ensure an end to the use of the Specialized Criminal Court (SCC) to silence human rights activism under the guise of counterterrorism.

Write to:

Waleed Mohammed Al Smani

Minister of Justice

Riyadh, Saudi Arabia

Postal Code 11472, P.O. Box 7775

Email: minister-office@moj.gov.sa

Salutation: Your Excellency:

And copy:

Her Excellency Amal Yahya Almoalimi


Royal Embassy of Saudi Arabia

201 Sussex Drive

Ottawa, ON K1N 1K6

Tel: (613) 237-4100 Fax: (613) 237-0567

Email: caemb@mofa.gov.sa

Background and Broader Impact

In 2018, Crown Prince Mohamed bin Salman suggested women could choose their attire, challenging the traditional abaya requirement. Despite this, Manahel’s case for not wearing an abaya and her advocacy for women’s rights led to her arrest, highlighting a stark contradiction in Saudi Arabia’s stance on women’s freedom.

Her trial’s transfer to the SCC, which routinely conflates peaceful activism with terrorism, along with similar harsh sentences against other women like Salma al-Shehab, emphasizes the systemic repression of women activists. The crackdown extends to Manahel’s family, with her sisters also facing charges for their advocacy, illustrating a broader pattern of stifling dissent and curbing women’s rights in the kingdom.

By January 2024, Amnesty International had documented 69 individuals prosecuted for their right to free expression, indicating a widespread issue with freedom of speech in Saudi Arabia. Manahel’s case is a critical example of this troubling trend, underscoring the urgent need for international advocacy and reform.

Please take action as soon as possible until June 6, 2024! The UA will be duly updated should there be the need for further action.