Saudi Arabia summons prominent female activist for questioning

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — Prominent Saudi women’s rights activist Loujain al-Hathloul has been summoned for questioning by Saudi security three months after her release from prison, a relative says.

Alia al-Hathloul, who resides in exile in Europe, confirms to The Associated Press that her sister was asked to report to the office of the Interior Ministry’s General Directorate of Investigation, or “mabaheth,” in the capital, Riyadh. She first announced the order on Twitter.

It isn’t immediately clear why al-Hathloul had been summoned. The activist was released from prison on February 10 after 1001 days in detention, including stretches of solitary confinement and allegations she’d been tortured. She was tried and found guilty in December by an anti-terrorism court on charges related to her activism.

She is among the most prominent voices in Saudi Arabia who’d pushed for greater women’s rights and the right of women to drive a car before the ban was lifted in mid-2018.

The terms of her release from prison include a five-year travel ban and three years of probation. Many Saudi prisoners released on charges related to their activism and speech must also sign declarations before leaving prison, vowing to stop tweeting and posting on social media. Some are also routinely summoned for questioning during probation.

In recent days, al-Hathloul has shared posts about a women’s rights campaign against sexual harassment in Kuwait, and waded into the sensitive topic of Gulf Arab normalization with Israel. Recently, she wrote that many of her Saudi friends have stopped writing on Twitter altogether.

Loujain al-Hathloul poses for a photo in Amsterdam, the Netherlands in 2017. (Marieke Wijntjes via AP)
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