Washington, April 5 (IANS) At least seven people, including two with dual US-Saudi citizenship, have been detained in the kingdom over their links with women’s rights activists, the media reported on Friday.
Those arrested are reportedly not frontline activists, but intellectuals and writers who discussed reform, the Washington Post reported, citing three people briefed on the arrests.
They had already been under a travel ban since February, said London-based Saudi rights group ALQST.
The report said that the detentions appeared to be part of the crackdown by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman on activists, dissidents and prominent figures that accelerated in September 2017 and has put hundreds of people in prison.
Most of the latest arrests took place on Thursday, according to people briefed on the detentions, all of whom spoke on condition of anonymity. Those detained included Salah al-Haidar, a dual US-Saudi citizen and the son of prominent feminist Aziza al-Yousef.
Yousef – on trial with other Saudi women’s rights advocates on charges related to their activism – was temporarily released from custody last week. She was part of a group of 10 women’s rights campaigners put on trial in February following a crackdown beginning in 2018.
Another detained person with dual US-Saudi citizenship was writer Bader al-Ibrahim, according to the Post.
Saudi Arabia’s move to put women activists’ on trial drew criticism from the international community, with 36 states demanding their release at the UN Human Rights Council, reports say.
The scrutiny of Saudi Arabia’s human rights record has intensified since the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi at the kingdom’s consulate in Istanbul last October.
The World Economic Forum ranked Saudi Arabia number 141 out of 149 countries around the world for gender equality in 2018.
Saudi women still cannot travel, get married or open a bank account without a male guardian’s permission.