Loujain al-Hathloul’s sister, Lina, said: “It’s the responsibility of the international community to inquire about (Loujain). To tell Saudi Arabia that they will not believe any reforms when those shuffle them behind the scenes.” al-Hathloul, told CNN. “It is the responsibility of the world community to demand the release of Loujain.”
In an interview with CNN’s Nic Robertson on Friday, Saudi Foreign Minister Adel Jubeir said Hathloul’s case was “up to her court to hear a case involving national security.”
“The idea that she and her parents were detained because they encouraged women to drive was special,” said Jubeir. “(Plans to lift the ban) The driving force of women was imposed by the King (King Salman) six months before they were detained. And if all the women in Saudi Arabia who beat the women drivers were to be imprisoned, half the women in Saudi Arabia would be in prison.”
The allegations are based on the alleged confession, which states that Hathloul has confessed to working for the United Nations, as well as links to human rights groups Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch.
‘Psychologically destroyed’ in prison
Saudi officials have denied allegations of torture and sexual abuse in their prisons.
For almost 2020, Hathloul was denied regular phone calls and family visits, her brothers and sisters said, citing authorities who cited dengue outbreaks as the reason for the suspension of communications.
When their parents saw Hathloul in August, after talking to her last on the phone in April, they found that he looked “extremely young and weak,” Lina related.
But she still laughs and warns. Loujain told her family that she was allowed to visit because she was starving and the prison authorities agreed to her request. She protested the suspension of communications after she learned that at least one other prisoner was still in regular contact with her family, according to Lina.
But after another visit on September 9, Loujain was again denied contact with her family until a meeting with her parents on October 26, when she informed them she would start another hunger strike.
“Loujain is not physically okay, but emotionally she is devastated,” Lina said. “My parents told us they had never seen Loujain as weak and helpless as if she were on that visit.
“She told them she would start a hunger strike that day … My parents tried their best to encourage her, but Loujain insisted on what he wanted … She did not want to survive in this prison where she was, even though she was not allowed to make regular calls.”
An independent panel of UN experts earlier this month expressed concern over reports of Hathloul’s deteriorating health and criticized Saudi Arabia for refusing to allow access to her family.
A statement from the UN Commission on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women read: “The Commission is alarmed by the conditions under which Al-Hathloul’s long-term detention conditions apply.
“Unlike other detainees, and in violation of Rules 26 and 42 of the United Nations Rules on the Treatment of Female Prisoners and Non-Custodian Measures for Women Offenders … Al-Hathloul was not allowed to have regular contact with her family, according to the report.”
Hathloul’s family said they had not heard from her since October 26.
Saudi officials have not responded to CNN’s request for comment on Hathloul’s allegations.
Hathloul is believed to be the most notorious political detainee currently inside a Saudi prison, causing trouble for women rights defenders detained in the kingdom to the outside world and creating international outrage. Most of the activists detained in the wave of arrests targeting Hathloul were released in early 2019, after much international pressure.
The 31-year-old activist is one of a number of women activists who have been denied release. Her sister said she was detained in solitary confinement in mid-April 2019 and remains there to this day. In January 2020, Hathloul was allowed to leave her solitary confinement, but she could not adapt to the voices of others after being out of contact for nearly seven months, Lina said. According to her family, she asked to stay in her room, with one hour of social activities per day, according to her family.
Loujain’s sister, Lina al-Hathloul, told CNN: “She did not want to go out and have someone torture and imprison her. She walked reluctantly and could still do this to other women after her.
“She is the most outspoken (Saudi) accused behind this. She will not accept a release without absolute justice.”
CNN’s Nic Robertson contributed to this report from Riyadh.