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Concerns in US after two Saudi activists referred to terrorism court

November 28, 2020 at 12:18 pm

Saudi activist Loujain Al-Hathloul [Prisoners of Conscience/Twitter]

The US Department of State expressed concerns about the transfer of Saudi activists Loujain Al-Hathloul and Samar Badawi to a Saudi terrorism court, amid a wave of criticism among US lawmakers of the kingdom’s human rights record.

The Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs (NEA) announced on Twitter: “We are concerned by reports that the cases of Loujain Al-Hathloul and Samar Badawi have been transferred to a terrorism court,” adding that “activism on behalf of women’s rights is not a crime.”

The NEA stated that it was alarmed by the allegations of abuse against Al-Hathloul and Badawi and the lack of transparency in their trials.

Al-Hathloul’s family announced on Wednesday that the case of Al-Hathloul, who was arrested three years ago, is being transferred for lack of jurisdiction by the criminal court to a terrorism tribunal.

Alia Al-Hathloul, Loujain’s sister, tweeted: “Today, the criminal court in Riyadh transferred for lack of jurisdiction Loujain’s case to a terrorism tribunal.”

READ: Saudi Arabia must free its Uyghur detainees

She explained that the decision came after “about three years of detention, and a year from the start of Loujain’s trial,” without providing further details.

A call for Biden to intervene

US Senator Chris Murphy called on Joe Biden’s administration to reconsider US-Saudi relations following the court’s decision against Al-Hathloul.

Democratic Senator Murphy tweeted “advocating for women’s rights in Saudi Arabia is now considered terrorism,” stressing that the US cannot be a human rights voice If they keep turning a blind eye to what is happening in Saudi Arabia.