Jack Sullivan, the official nominated by US President-elect Joe Biden to fill the position of US National Security Adviser, said that the ruling against Loujain Al-Hathloul “simply for exercising her universal rights is an unfair and disturbing judgment.”
Sullivan added in a tweet on his Twitter account that the Biden-Harris administration would stand “against human rights violations wherever they occur.”
This coincided with the United Nations Human Rights Office’s call for the “early release” of Saudi activist Loujain Al-Hathloul, as soon as possible. The UN office said the conviction of Jane was a matter of deep concern.
For its part, the French Foreign Ministry called for the “rapid release” of Loujain Al-Hathloul, and the deputy foreign ministry spokesman said, “As we have said publicly on several occasions, we want the speedy release of Mrs. Loujain Al-Hathloul.”
He added, “France reminds us of its continuous action towards human rights and equality between women and men.”
A Saudi court had sentenced Loujain Al-Hathloul to 5 years and 8 months in prison, and the ruling included a stay of two years and 10 months of the prescribed punishment, which means that the remainder of the sentence is 3 months.
Saudi media reported that the court convicted Loujain Al-Hathloul on charges of inciting to change the basic system of government, seeking to serve an external agenda inside the kingdom, using the Internet with the aim of harming public order, and cooperating with a number of individuals and entities, and said that this comes under the system of combating terrorism crimes and its financing.
It ruled that if she commits any crime within the next three years, the suspension will be deemed null.
Commenting on the merits of the conviction, the prisoners ’account criticized what he called“ the Saudi authorities ’insistence on stigmatizing Loujain al-Hathloul as labor and treason, despite the judiciary’s circumvention of the prison sentence in order for Jane to be released within a very short period.”
He continued, “We confirm that Loujain’s arrest came against the background of her human rights activities, and that she has nothing to do with any false accusation directed against her.”
On May 15, 2018, the Saudi authorities arrested a number of prominent human rights activists, most notably Al-Hathloul, Samar Badawi, Nasima Al-Sada, Nouf Abdel Aziz and Lamia Al-Zahrani.
Human rights reports at the time attributed the reasons for the arrest to their defense of women’s rights, in exchange for official accusations, including “compromising the security of the country.”
On Tuesday, the Saudi newspapers “Sabq” and “Asharq Al-Awsat” reported that a court in the capital, Riyadh, had decided to reject a lawsuit filed by Al-Hathloul regarding her exposure to torture and harassment.
The rejection decision came about 20 months after the case was filed, amid confirmation from the court that it could be challenged (the rejection decision) within 30 days in light of criticism from the Hathloul family and Saudi activists.
In August 2019, Al-Hathloul’s family said that they had refused an offer to release them from prison in exchange for a video recording denying reports that they had been tortured in custody.
Al-Hathloul began a hunger strike in October, the second of 2020, to protest the conditions of her detention. Her family said they were forced to give up their hunger strike after two weeks because the guards would wake her every two hours.
In November 2020 her case was transferred from a criminal court to a specialized court for terrorism crimes.