Biden had said during the 2020 election campaign that he would “reassess” the U.S. relationship with Saudi Arabia and ensure that “America does not check its values at the door,” marking a break with the Trump administration, which had largely refrained from criticizing the kingdom’s human rights record.
Saudi Arabia on Wednesday freed one of its most prominent women’s rights activist, Loujain al-Hathloul, after 1,000 days in detention.
Critics slammed the government for what was described as politically-motivated charges.
Her sister, Lina, broke the news in a Twitter post, posting a close-up picture of Hathloul’s face, “Loujain is at home !!!!!!”
Another sister, Alia, said in a separate post that Hathloul was at their parents’ home in Saudi Arabia, adding today is the best day of her life.
Hathloul, 31, was arrested in a May 2018 sweep after she opposed the kingdom’s ancient law barring women from driving.
Last December, her family said that Riyadh’s Specialized Criminal Court, a terror tribunal, sentenced Hathloul to five years and eight months in prison, including a two-year and 10-month suspension.
The social media has since gone agog over her release.
“Saudi women’s rights activist, Loujain al-Hathloul should never have been imprisoned. The supposedly ‘reformist’ Saudi crown prince jailed her for demanding her rights. Still, let’s celebrate that she has now, at long last, been released,” Executive Director of Human Rights Watch, Kenneth Roth, wrote on Twitter.
Hathloul’s release comes less than a week after the US President Joe Biden called on the kingdom to release political prisoners, including women’s rights activists.
According to Hathloul’s brother, Walid al-Hathloul, “We’re excited (about her release), but the fight for justice is not over yet. We would have to work very hard to secure justice for Loujain, but we’re very delighted for this news.
“Any release that does not include an independent investigation of the charges, does not include lifting the travel ban, does not include dropping the charges, is not freedom. Therefore we’re far away from justice.”