UN Rights office calls for early release of Saudi women's activist

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Representative Image

New York [US], December 28 (ANI/Sputnik): The UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) called in a statement for the early release of prominent Saudi women's rights activist Loujain al-Hathloul after she was sentenced on Monday to nearly six years in prison.

Earlier in the day, media reported Hathloul was sentenced to five years and eight months in jail under Saudi counterterrorism law, which has drawn international criticism for its broad definition of terrorism. Hathloul has only three months to serve after the court suspended two years and 10 months of her sentence and backdated the start of the jail term to May 2018.

"Conviction and [five years and eight months] sentence handed down to prominent women's rights campaigner Loujain al-Hathloul already arbitrarily detained for [two and a half years,] is also deeply troubling," the OHCHR said via Twitter. "We understand early release is possible, and strongly encourage it as matter of urgency."

A longtime activist, Hathloul was first detained in 2014 for manifesting against the now-lifted Saudi ban on female drivers. She has also spoken out against the male guardianship law that barred women from travelling abroad without the permission of a male relative, which was eased last year.

Hathloul was arrested in May 2018.

The rights of women in Saudi Arabia, an ultraconservative kingdom on the Arabian peninsula, have been limited even in comparison to other nations across the Muslim world. Human rights groups have repeatedly criticized Saudi authorities for suppressing women's rights activists. (ANI/Sputnik)