Yemen War

Blackmailing al-Hathloul, new shame for Saud House regime

The family of the activist detained in the kingdom’s prisons, Lujain al-Hathloul, said that the Al-Saud authorities offered to release her in exchange for her denial in a video recording that she was tortured and sexually abused during her imprisonment.

Her brother Walid al-Hathloul posted on Twitter: “State Security visited Lujain in al-Ha’ir prison to sign an agreement that she appears in a recording saying she was not tortured.”

The agreement with them was to sign only a pledge that she was not tortured and that is why we remained silent. Appearing in a video, she never tortured these unrealistic demands.

There was no immediate response from the Al-Saud authorities, and the Information Ministry did not respond to requests for comment.

Al-Hathloul became 30 in prison and is among a number of prominent women activists currently facing trial after their arrest last year in a crackdown on activists.

Al-Hathloul is among a number of detainees who have accused interrogators of torture and sexual abuse, charges that the Saudi government has strongly denied.

Her brother said she had initially agreed to sign a document denying that she had been tortured as a precondition for her release, adding that the family had intended to keep the agreement secret.

However, state security officials again visited her in prison and asked her to record her exile in a video.

“Appearing in a video that she was not tortured, these are unrealistic demands,” he wrote on Twitter.
“Lujain was offered an agreement to deny torture and release her,” her sister Lina al-Hathloul commented on Twitter.

“Whatever happens, I testify once again that Lujain has been brutally tortured and sexually abused.”

Saudi authorities detained Lujain al-Hathloul and at least a dozen women’s rights activists more than a year ago as Saudi Arabia ended the ban on women driving cars, which many have long called for. Local media described the activists as traitors.

Some activists have appeared in court this year on charges of working in defense of human rights and contacting foreign journalists and diplomats, but the hearings have not been held for months.

The case has drawn international criticism and anger in European capitals and the US Congress, especially after the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi by Saudis inside the kingdom’s consulate in Istanbul.

Human rights groups say at least three women detainees, including al-Hathloul, have been held for months in solitary confinement and abuses including electric shocks, whipping and sexual harassment.

Her brother said accusations against al-Hathloul included communicating with 15 to 20 foreign journalists in Saudi Arabia, trying to apply for a job at the United Nations and attending a training course on digital privacy.

Authorities have detained dozens of other activists, intellectuals and clerics over the past two years in an apparent attempt to stamp out any potential opposition even as the crown prince seeks to open up Saudi society and end the economy’s dependence on oil.

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