Saudi women's rights activist, Loujain al-Hathloul, who was detained three years ago, has been sentenced to five years and eight months in prison under Saudi Arabia's counter-terrorism law, after being found guilty of spying with foreign nationals and conspiring against the kingdom.
Al-Hathloul was convicted for meeting British and other European diplomats, as well as applying for a job in the United Nations. She was also accused of speaking to foreign press agencies and international human rights groups, The Guardian reported.
Besides, the court also found her guilty of "incitement to change the kingdom's the ruling regime and cooperating with individuals and entities to carry out a foreign agenda".
Speaking to the media, al-Hathloul's family said that the court suspended a portion of her sentence and included the time she has served till date. Therefore, she could be released in approximately two months, in March 2021, based on the time served.
The 31-year-old has been in custody for about 34 months, since May 2018, when she was arrested along with four human rights activists, for campaigning for women's rights to drive and seeking change in the Saudi political system and harming national security.
al-Hathloul will be barred from leaving the kingdom for the next five years and will be required to serve three years of probation after her release, the family said. She has 30 days to appeal against the verdict.
During her imprisonment, there were reports of al-Hathloul being transferred from the Jeddah city to a secret location, where she was tortured and sexually harassed. However, the court dismissed the allegations in the absence of evidence.
Many people, including political leaders, condemned the court's order and called for al-Hathloul's release.