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Saudi Activist, Loujain al-Hathloul, Who Was Jailed For Fighting For Women’s Right To Drive, Has Been Freed After 1,001 Days

Loujain al-Hathloul, a prominent Saudi women’s rights activist who was jailed after campaigning for an end to the ban on women driving in the country, has been released after 1,001 days in prison, her family said.

The 31-year-old was sentenced to five years and eight months in December, after being found guilty of conspiring against the kingdom by communicating with foreign diplomats, journalists and rights organizations.

Two years and 10 months of her sentence was suspended by the judge, and she was also given credit for time already served, which apparently led to her release on Wednesday Feb. 10, according to the New York Times.

“Loujain is at home!!!!!!” al-Hathoul’s sister, Lina tweeted with a photo of her on a video call with her sister.

However, despite her release, she is not technically free as her sentence includes three years of probation and a five-year ban on traveling outside of Saudi Arabia.

al-Hathoul was arrested with around a dozen other activists pushing for an end to the driving ban in May 2018, just weeks before Saudi Arabia lifted the ban as one of the historical social reforms by crown prince Mohammed bin Salman.

Saudi officials have denied that al-Hathloul was arrested for her activism, but for “a campaign to undermine the royal family,” according to the Guardian.

“My sister is not a terrorist, she is an activist,” Lina, said in a statement after her sister’s sentence in December. “To be sentenced for her activism for the very reforms that MBS (Mohammed Bin Salman) and the Saudi kingdom so proudly tout is the ultimate hypocrisy.”

al-Hathloul said she has been subject to torture and sexual harassment in prison and went on a two-week hunger strike in protest.

al-Hathloul has long been critical of the kingdom’s restrictions on women, including the male guardianship system, and had been detained a number of times for defying the driving ban before it was lifted.

In December 2014, she was arrested and detained for 73 days for attempting to drive her car from the United Arab Emirates to Saudi Arabia even though she had a UAE license.

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