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Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 18 October 2018

Saudi women arrested for defying driving ban ‘freed from prison’

Two Saudi women, one of whom tried to defy a ban on female driving, have been freed after more than two months in jail, a women’s rights campaigner said on Friday.
A still from a video released by Loujain Al Hathloul shows her driving towards the UAE-Saudi Arabia border before her arrest on December 1, 2014, in Saudi Arabia. Loujain Al Hathloul / AP Photo
A still from a video released by Loujain Al Hathloul shows her driving towards the UAE-Saudi Arabia border before her arrest on December 1, 2014, in Saudi Arabia. Loujain Al Hathloul / AP Photo

RIYADH // Two Saudi Arabian women, one of whom tried to defy a ban on female driving, have been freed after more than two months in jail, a women’s rights campaigner said on Friday.

“Yes, Loujain is free,” said the campaigner who spoke with Loujain Al Hathloul, 25 after she left prison.

Ms Al Hathloul “just said that she’s released and she’s happy,” said the activist, who did not give a name.

Maysa Al Amoudi, 33, was detained at the same time as Ms Al Hathloul, has also been let out of jail, her family confirmed, according to the activist.

“Peace be upon you, good people,” Ms Al Hathloul tweeted late on Thursday.

The pair had been held since December 1, after Ms Al Hathloul tried to drive into the kingdom from the UAE in defiance of the ban.

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

Ms Al Amoudi, a journalist, arrived at the border in support of Ms Al Hathloul and was also arrested.

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

At the time, campaigners did 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 driving.

The activist said on Friday did not know whether the two women were facing charges or what conditions were placed on their release.

Before her arrest she tweeted, sometimes with humour, details of the 24 hours she spent waiting to cross into Saudi Arabia after border officers stopped her.

* Agence France-Presse