Saudi women who defied driving ban ‘freed from jail’

YouTube | A screengrab of one of the two defendants, al-Hathloul, driving

Two Saudi women's rights activists, who protested the country’s ban on female driving, have been freed after more than two months in jail, a campaigner said on Friday.


Loujain al-Hathloul and Maysa al-Amoudi were arrested on December 1 after Hathloul tried to drive into the kingdom from neighbouring United Arab Emirates (UAE) while Alamoudi, a UAE-based Saudi journalist, arrived at the border to support the act and was also detained.

In December, activists said a court in Eastern Province had transferred the women to a special tribunal for "terrorism" cases.

At the time, campaigners could not provide full details of the allegations against the pair but said investigations appeared to focus on the women's social media activities rather than the attempted violation of the female driving ban.

Both of them are active on Twitter, with Hathloul having more than 232,000 followers and Alamoudi 136,000. Alamoudi has also hosted a programme on YouTube discussing the driving ban.

After spending more than two months behind bars, the two women now appear to have been released.

"Yes, Loujain is free," a campaigner who had spoken with Hathloul told AFP, adding that the family of Alamoudi had confirmed that also she had been freed.

Their release seemed to be confirmed by a tweet sent out by Hathloul late on Thursday.

"Peace be upon you, good people," she tweeted.

It was not immediately clear, however, whether the women still face charges and whether there are special conditions placed on the release.

Saudi Arabia is the only country in the world which does not allow women to drive.

(FRANCE 24 with AFP)

Daily newsletterReceive essential international news every morning