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Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 September 2018

Saudi Snapchat model in miniskirt released without charge

The woman confessed to being the person on film wearing a miniskirt, but said she saw no aware that a video of her had been uploaded on social media

A woman in Saudi Arabia, who sparked controversy after videos of her in a miniskirt went viral, has been released without charge.

The woman was detained on Tuesday and questioned for a few hours after videos of her wearing "immodest clothes" - a miniskirt and a crop top - was posted on Snapchat on the weekend.

In videos uploaded under the account of "Model Khulood", a woman was filmed walking through the historic fort of Ushaiqer, north of Riyadh, with her hair uncovered.

The incident sparked debate in the region where some said she violated Saudi Arabia's conservative Islamic dress code, while others called into question the rights of women in the kingdom.

The Saudi Centre for International Communication said the woman - who was not named - confessed to being the person filmed walking through the site. She said she was not aware that the video of her had been uploaded, it said.

"She was released without charge and the case has been closed by the prosecutor," the centre said.

Women in most parts of Saudi Arabia are required to wear the abaya and cover their hair in public. They are also not allowed to drive and must receive a written permission or be accompanied by a male chaperone - a father, husband or brother - in order to travel, work or study.

Her release without charge was unusual, and a rare victory for supporters of women's rights who slammed the outcry against her.

The decision not to press charges against the woman comes as Saudi Arabia overhauls its prosecution system.

Last month, King Salman announced that the public prosecution powers would be moved from the interior minister's purview to that of the royal court, directly under the monarch. A new attorney general was also named in the reshuffling.

Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the new 31-year-old heir to the throne, has pushed for greater openings in society as part of a wider overhaul plan called Vision 2030. More than half of Saudi Arabia's population is under 25.

* reporting from Associated Press and Agence France-Presse

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